Digital Pedagogy Lab : Prince Edward Island : Second Reflections
The recent pedagogy lab on Prince Edward Island was split into two tracks, Digital Literacies and Networks. My experience was mostly with the network track, focusing on the nature of digital networks and network-building. Although, with a dedicated unconference space there was a lot of crossover, as you’d expect. And that crossover was with a diverse group including representatives from government (provincial dept of education), graduate students, senior managers, learning technologists, heads of professional services, and of course lecturers, teachers, and researchers.
One of the key reasons for my attending the lab was to inform the discovery phase of new work we may be undertaking at Jisc around the “next generation of learning environments”, and some work that James Clay is leading on “smart campuses”. During my debrief back at work, I was asked what the key takeaway messages were. This is one of them.
Education should be process not content
We worked through a great post of Dave Cormier’s “Content is a print concept” hence the title of this reflection.
Content is a print concept. It requires replication in the form of the printing press. It requires authority/power in the form of a government/agency/publisher deciding what is ‘required’ to learn. It is a standardization engine for learning, both to allow for spreading of authorized messaging and to allow for ‘uninstructed teachers to teach almost as well as an experienced one.’
Education, learning, should be a process– it sounds obvious, but when we look critically at the learning environments we have developed thus far, there is strong element of students engaging with content, not people. This is especially true in digital contexts.
Sundi Richard wrote a post after #DigPed about her niece starting her freshman year and wanting to do extra classes.
“… the real heartbreak came when she told me that she was really disappointed that she had to take her literature class as an online course. She was disappointed because she was most looking forward to the discussion that could be part of it. And sadly, I knew she was most likely right. That her online course was most likely a cookie cutter online course that focused on getting the content in a flexible way during the semester and not much else, because that is a lot of what is out there.”
Education should be a process. The mapping of digital capabilities in this networked reality, this connectivist educational world, gives both staff and students the opportunity to move beyond mere content being presented and reacted to, but to engage in effective (and messy) educational practices. So what is preventing this from happening? Is it the structures of the institutions or the structure of the systems we use? Are most of us used to broadcast media without the engagement? And if that is not true, why then do we not expect or build it into the learning context? The discussions around connectivism and the potential that it has for education, the way we think about learning and teaching, could be the most important thing we consider when we look at new technologies. We must ask if they are serving the content or the process, do they just allow the option of engagement, or is engagement central to the point of the technology?
On Assessment in connectivist spaces
So, if we start thinking about the process being the goal, what does that mean for assessment? How do we reach the goal of assessment being concerned with the learning process , rather than the acquisition of content? How do we achieve an environment that is predicated on the learning taking place within the network and through the interaction?
In the meantime here is a singing Mountie, Hockey Player and a Beaver