Why I Teach

I’m on a train back to Manchester having completed three days of teaching on a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice course involving Fashion Design, Fashion Styling, Fashion Business and Product Design lecturer-practitioners from London, Paris and Milan. All of them had facilitated a 15 minute micro teaching session on a subject of their choice:

I learnt the difference between set in, kimono and raglan sleeves
I learnt about plagiarism issues in Fashion Design
I learnt about the Italian way of combining spaghetti with tomato sauce (it does n’t include garlic!)
I learnt about the communicative power of fashion branding
I learnt about the influence of the textile market on fashion trends
I learnt about the three basic principles of photography
I learnt about the importance of creating a mood board in fashion design
I learnt more about each of my students……

This is why I teach!

Open Learning: New for Old?

In 1993 Roger Lewis in “The Progress Of Open Learning”, Education + Training, Vol. 35


outlined a definition of open learning as a way of helping individuals to take responsibility for their own learning. Learners may, for example, choose:

• what they learn (content);
• how they learn (methods; media; routes);
• where they learn (place);
• when they learn (time);
• how quickly they learn (pace);
• who to turn to for help;
• whether, when and where to have their learning assessed

In the connected, participatory, constructivist, collaborative and mobile learning world of social media, to what extent does this definition still have merit today?

• what they learn – content back in the day usually
took the form of pre-packaged well designed open learning materials, now of courses potential learners face an expansive abundance of open educational resources or in Rheingold’s (2013: 15)terms the need to “master the use of our attention amid a myriad of choices designed to attract us”
• how they learn – methods, media, routes – multiple methods, media and route ways now exist but can too much of these be a possible barrier to learning i.e. Neophyte learners being lost in hyperspace without the appropriate structures to guide their agency? It’s interesting that the current connected course has a time lined curriculum structure – in a truly open course should we start with a blank space and negotiate what we want to learn or would that be chaos and logistically impossible?
• where they learn (place) – endless mobility of course has its attractions – what’s not to like?
• when they learn (time); similarly this openness grants freedom to learn within ones own time frames but the trick is to manage this amongst other work, social, family responsibilities
• how quickly they learn (pace); different learners learn at a different pace but should courses be time constrained especially with regard to meeting assessment deadlines?
• who to turn to for help; connected courses suggest peer to peer support and the need to develop social capital i.e. Communication networks that allow learners to do things together but what should be the role of the teacher – well the good news is that the teacher still has to maintain ‘high visibility’https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/HEA_Edinburgh_MOOC_WEB_240314_1.pdf and high ongoing accessibility The report concludes that – contrary to some
media reports and research – ‘the teacher persists’ in the MOOC, and finds that the MOOC teacher is often required to perform multiple roles: lecturer, designer, mentor, institutional marketer, etc. in a highly visible and therefore highly risky environment.
• whether, when and where to have their learning assessed – yes the great connectivist challenge! Assessment as ongoing formative feedback and conversation/dialogue or assessment as summative accounting/auditing/warranting….the debate continues…..

Nighthawks and Connected Courses

I’ve just sat in on the opening pre-course hangout – very useful! There was some useful discussion on how to develop trust in on line environments. The phrase “being there” came up in the conversation in describing part of the role of the teacher/tutor within such virtual contexts – in effect the importance of presence and accessibility. It reminded me of an important quote from one of my previous students:

‘This was the beginning of what turned out to be a developmental journey of both support and challenge that was given face-to-face, over email, telephone and on Skype. This way of working – or rather studying – was a way we were used to in the real world, where work isn’t divided into lessons and rigid structures, and where dealing with the global market means being reachable and operative at odd hours and wanting a quick answer to your emails.’

Thanks Bette!

This then led my wandering mind to Nighthawks by Edward Hopper ……”odd hours” indeed…..and hence my course header…..

Connected Courses: Active Co-Learning in Higher Education

Greetings everyone!

I’m writing this from Bellows Falls in Vermont, USA. I’m on vacation or am I in this new ‘here and now’ combination of leisure, learning and working experiences – open and closed, connected and disconnected at the same time as I self edit my relationship between the multiplicity of options that the the digital and real world presents at this current time. In fact earlier today I went physically to the newly restored Bartonsville Bridge and after watched the original bridges demise digitally – washed away as a result of Hurricane Irene.
Watch too at: http://youtu.be/ZEs8ubAw7a8
That’s my first shared connection…..
I look forward to meeting, and sharing with you all in the future.
Best wishes