Time to unbundle
Every now and again, we should all take the time to sit back and reflect on what we are going in the classroom and lecture theatres. It is important to think carefully about what we are doing and why we are doing it and, perhaps most importantly, is it being effective. It was while following a link on my twitter feed that I came across the term -‘unbundle’. So I decided to share my initial unbundling with you today…
The original article that this waffle is based on came from a site which I was not actually aware of. The original article was from a site which appears to be based in America and focused on the use of Socrative and the Flipped Classroom approach. I have already waffled about the use of the Flipped Classroom and was keen to see how the author of the article (Professor Philip LaRocco) used this approach within his sessions. An additional section of the article I was instantly attracted to was the a video describing the students’ view of the approach. If you want to see when the term ‘unbundled’ is used, it is in the last video on the page. The Professor talks about the need to unbundle our habits, content and approach before implementing the flipped classroom approach. So welcome to my initial unbundling, live for you within this waffle.
Personal Philosophy – Before I started to unbundle anything, I thought it was important to take the time and consider what my actual personal philosophy of teaching was within my sessions. As you might have realised, I think learning should be enjoyable, engaging, interactive and purposeful (wish I could think of other ‘e’s). Although there are times that information does have to be provided for learners, e.g. whole cohort lectures, I do not subscribe to sessions when the ‘power’ appears to be with the tutor at the front of the room with the learners absorbing information like kitchen towels as sprays of water are directed at them. For me, learning should be lead by the learner with the tutor facilitating and supporting the whole process. Because of this, within my personal idyllic classroom, the learners would be dictating the content and progression, with myself just giving the rudder a gentle nudge as we sail through the sea of knowledge, to keep the learning on course within the learning outcomes of the module. In order to achieve this, the two things I consider to be essential are- 1) me as the tutor to have the confidence to give up control and 2) the learners to be willing to take control. This might be perceived as a perfect situation, although I think it is important to identify my aims before I unbundle.
Give me answers not questions – Although I teach primary mathematics, science and computing, my main discipline is teaching and learning. I work on a vocational course, training teachers for the job which I enjoyed for some years. Many trainees come to the course wanting the answer to a question which I consider to be the most difficult question to answer – how do I become an outstanding teacher? Teaching is a skill and a craft. It is something which is multifaceted and complicated. It is a job which uses a wealth of skills and personal attributes, with the emphasis on the ‘important one’ changing not only day to day, but often minute or second to second. As I am writing this I am trying to think if there is one important skill, but even when I type one, I suddenly become aware of another which might be considered more important or effective. This dilemma actually relates to this section, since it is important that as teachers, and learners, that we search for answers and reflect on what we arrive at. If I could actually provide a course that instantly created outstanding teachers I think I would be a rich person. What I want to try and encourage within my sessions is the opportunity for the learners to search for answers, analyse and reflect on these answers, and then ask more questions. Learners often want answers directly and can, at times, become frustrated when I answer with a question. Within my session – I want this to be the essential part of learning, which the questions and reflection going in both directions. If I can achieve this then I think I would be on the way to develop reflective practitioners who can search for their own answers and progress to excellence.
Beyond the sessions – The time I actually spend with the learners within a session covering a specific aspect of teaching is, in the grand scheme of things, rather limited. I consider the role of asynchronous learning important and promote the engagement outside the sessions wherever possible. This is where technology plays an important role, with Discussion Forums, Virtual Worlds and Twitter both promoting learning as well as interaction and engagement. Although I encourage this, actual participation is something which I need to hand over to the learners. I could, of course, integrate the discussion forums and blog posts into the compulsory parts of the module although this, for me, then becomes synchronous rather than asynchronous learning. As I develop my understanding of the benefits and possibilities of virtual worlds, I feel this will be an area which could further support the asynchronous learning and hence the focus of my soon to be written PhD proposal. Although I am only currently starting with Minecraft, soon Second Life will be available for learners to interact with and form a community of practice. I consider that my role is still as a facilitator and although I can provide the opportunities, the actually engagement remains firmly in the hands of the learners – something which I have no control over and need to accept.
By ‘unbundling’ I feel that I now have a basis on which to build from. The three areas above represent what I want to base my teaching on. There are, of course, many other areas and facets that will be involved, but if I keep these three; student centred, skills focused and asynchronous learning as my three main aims, I now can start to bundle my sessions back together. For me this process, which I have shared with you, has allowed me to really think and reflect on the key features of my teaching. Now comes the hard part of implementing these effectively and successfully into my everyday teaching. Definitely a job for the summer. So – you now know I am an advocator of asynchronous learning, so why not unbundle yourself? What do you think are the three main key philosophies which you want to base your teaching on? If you feel like sharing then there is a comment box below that I have created purely for this purpose. (smiley face)
Have fun and I’ll catch you all later.