Friday, March 31, 2017

Work in Progress 2

Reading Chapter 5 of the BlendKit Reader and 

Coming upon this quote:
"there is a work-in-progress aspect to conceptualizing quality in blended learning"
Really really appreciating 
Taking me immediately back 
To an earlier post from February of last year

As I noted there:
My life has been and continues to be
A work in progress
Whether it be
Cleaning the house
Designing learning environments/experiences
Any other of a myriad of focus

At that time I was wondering and thinking out loud-- which activities/processes that I had just uncovered might best enable learning in the Blended Learning ecourse I was designing 
for Powerful Learning Practice. And as I was considering and thinking on the inquiry environment in which learning would occur, it became even more clear that my aspiration for quality might/should always be a work in progress-- For although I had quite a repertoire of processes/protocols/routines that encouraged interaction and deeper thinking, it has been my experience that there are always more that I haven't yet unearthed. In addition, the tech tools that enable these interactions among learners and with the content are constantly changing and offering greater affordances for learning.

So to discover this perspective in this reading-- after exploring the rubrics and checklists full of ideas yet in many ways prescriptive, at least for me-- caused me to smile broadly. For when I was asking last year in that post, "And that's OK, right?", here was an answer.

Joe Fahs notes "merits and limitations" in the use of rubrics and checklists for Quality Assurance while also adding his favorite quotes, one of which resonates with me:

“One might argue that faculty in meaningful dialogue with other faculty about the teaching/learning process is the most effective form of faculty development with everything else being merely layers of facilitation.
In addition, I'm wondering on the role of learners in supporting the work to assure quality learning environments. When the reading suggests:
"it is in the lived experience of teaching a course (regardless of modality) that much can go wrong (or right)"
from which designers can learn, I'm thinking that learner input is also of value as they have lived that experience also.

Finally, the reading's stance, that designers may

That stance-- of a learner--- can influence, IMHO. everything.
From gleaning new activities/processes as a life long learner of designs for learning
To being open to the possibilities of new learning learning landscapes
To continually aspiring to create the best of environments for learning
And to realizing that designing for learning is
Always a work in progress.

1 comment:

jratcliffe said...

Thank you for sharing this. I, too am taking the BlendKit course and I really appreciate your focus and reflection on this part of Chapter 5 of the BlendKit Reader--

"there is a work-in-progress aspect to conceptualizing quality in blended learning"

Educators generally do everything we can to provide the best, most fulfilling experience possible for students, but no matter how much planning goes into a course, blended or not, there are always ways that we can improve. Because of this, if we truly value student growth and experience, we will never stop efforts to improve quality. In addition, the fact that we can always improve does not mean that we need not, at some point, release our course "into the world" and take part in some valuable interactions with students, being open to all of the feedback they are willing to give along the way.

As you mention, there are many pieces of life that are works in progress and will never be able to be fully realized in one simple step. On a similar level, there are many industries that value iterative design: releasing a product, getting feedback from testers and consumers, taking notes, making improvements and releasing another version of the product…rinse and repeat; tweaking along the way, rather than trying to make the perfect product straight out of the gate. There is much to be learned by auditioning your work and getting feedback that could not be obtained if you keep your idea to yourself until you feel it’s “perfect.” It reminds me of a specific quote:

"Real artists ship." - Steve Jobs

It is interesting that he said “artists” when he was leading the work of a technology company, but when we look at design of all kinds, there are elements that are artistic and technical and they must be thought of simultaneously and cohesively at the time of design for fear of one being subservient to the other. I feel this is commonly the challenge of using technology like blended environments in education: no matter the ratio of face-to-face learning to online, the the technology should not feel like an afterthought. It should be a critical part of the instructional design.

My career is at the intersection of art, technology and education, and although it may seem to some like these are disparate fields, they are very much intertwined, especially as the technology is more accessible and as the integration of technology into education becomes more intuitive and natural. In music, there is a design loop between performers, composers and instrument makers such that the feedback from one party informs the work and decision-making processes of the others. I have found this iterative design concept to be highly valuable in all aspects of my work: technical, artistic and educational. In the design and implementation of a course, we must think of the students as valuable partners—without learners, who are we teaching, or more importantly, why are we teaching?

As you mention (and as the reading mentions), like in any course, when we design a blended course, I think it is helpful to adopt the attitude, or perspective, of the learner. What are the students’ experiences in the course like and if you were taking this course, how would you want the content to be presented? How would you want to learn in a blended environment? Learning is a lifelong process and I firmly believe I learn just as much from my students as they do from me. It is the iterative design loop of education and it is always a work in progress.