Business Council Australia, Higher Education Reform & the benefits of NGL

One of the key benefits of a global and networked society is the ease with which information can be disseminated and discussed.  Indeed, we are all privy to information that once would have been difficult or costly to access.  It’s why it is important that we, as a society, learn how to effectively interact online and engage in significant discussion.

Here is an example;

The Business Council of Australia has sent a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.

The Business Council believes the comparative advantage for Australia must be to train, attract and retain the best and brightest people in the world. That means we need a higher education sector that delivers skilled graduates, world-class research that leads to innovation, and a strong export industry.

For a few years it was bandied about that Australia was ‘the clever country’.  That notion then seemed to fade into the woodwork.  As someone who is convinced that education is one of the most profound ways to positively change lives and create better futures, here’s hoping that the weight of the Business Council can help avoid the political horse trading mentioned and see education funded at the level that can see a return to ‘the clever country’.

This is where being a sophisticated online community can be invaluable.  We can get discussion going, solicit feedback from people that we would have difficulty reaching physically and canvass views from a wide variety of people.

So, perhaps a crucial new area in education is to teach how to interact effectively online, the rules and etiquette, how to think critically, and engage/respond to others effectively.

[This connects me to a separate post about why it is essential that we teach everyone how to think critically.  That I believe is more important than much of the content mandated in curricula.]

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Critical Thinking and the infection of online hysteria

Maiers Literacy Institute Reflections (Day 1)
Courtesy of Mike Sansone on Flikr

If we don’t think critically, then is it helpful to think at all?

One of the powers on an online and networked society is the speed with which information and discussion can be disseminated.  However, there is a danger that – without critical thought – people can get swept along with their communities ‘liking’ and ‘disliking’ simply because that is the prevailing wave of information passing through.

For an easily implemented approach, I really enjoyed the paper by Duron, Limback and Waugh which introduces a five step critical thinking framework for any discipline.  It explores techniques that encourages the implementation of critical thinking within curricula.

For something more complex, the The Foundation for Critical Thinking has identified nine intellectual standards and eight basic structures present in all thinking and has developed an Online Model for learning the Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking.

Regardless of what methodology you adopt, it seems to me that we are remiss if we neglect to include the capacity to be discerning whether online or off.

 

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REFERENCES

Duron, R., Limbach, B., & Waugh, W. (2006). Critical Thinking Framework For Any Discipline. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 17(2), 160–166. Retrieved from http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE17(2).pdf#page=89

Blame, boundaries and ‘hating teachers’

Annaleise brings to our attention an article from the US “Why do Americans love to blame teachers?”  I suspect any of us with an interest in education, or simply reading the local newspapers, have seen similar in our own countries.

What I found most interesting was the comments about  ‘calling’:

In the early 1800s, reformer Catharine Beecher argued that young women with a missionary calling should replace male teachers who were “intemperate … coarse, hard, unfeeling men, too lazy or stupid” to teach

In the field of psychology we are discouraged from seeing our occupation as a ‘calling’ since it can create havoc with healthy boundaries. It doesn’t mean psychologists are less committed, it is more an effort to not take on responsibility for the client outcomes whilst still maintaining responsibility for our own professionalism.

I can see a difference in my practice from when I was a young psychologist to now. I don’t care less, I simply care differently. Maybe a similar emphasis might be helpful in education since currently there does seem to be a popular tendency to make teachers accountable for ‘all things’ including many that are totally beyond their control.  And some teachers contribute to the situation by caring too deeply and not wisely.

To me a ‘calling’ is to care passionately about what I do and have a deep desire to act on that passion.  However the way that calling is expressed has changed over the years as I have matured and learnt better ways of implementing my passion.  I feel both my clients and myself have benefited as a result.

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I also found this article as helpful on the topics of boundaries:

Frankel, Ze’ev • Holland, Jason M. • Currier, Joseph M. . 2012. “Encounters with Boundary Challenges: A Preliminary Model of Experienced Psychotherapists’ Working Strategies.” Journal of contemporary psychotherapy 42 (2): 101-112.

Building a “Fundamental Success Philosophy”

Last Sunday I had the priviledge of being the opening keynote speaker for the 2014 Curtin Ignition program.  [More]Group

Ignition is five and a half day intensive program held annually in Perth which prepares delegates for taking their innovation to the business world.  Run by the Curtin Centre for Entrepreneurship, it is based on the successful Ignite program managed and delivered by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL).

In addition to speaking at the opening on the Sunday, I was invited to take part in the clinics and to sit on the ‘pitch panels’ in the afternoon at the end of the program on Friday. The clinics allow delegates to book a confidential, one on one session with a variety of ‘experts’ who have assisted with the program. The pitch panels are when delegates present their idea to a panel of experts who provided feedback.  So I saw the delegates at the beginning and the end of the program.  Amazing growth both personally and in terms of understanding what was needed for them to bring their ideas to market. The buzz in the centre on Friday was immense.

From an EDU8117 perspective, what was interesting was the number of digital applications that some of the 54 attendees were looking to bring to market.  Digitial technology being used in a myriad of clever and innovative ways; many promising pathways for enhancing education and quality of life.

The experience totally supports why I am doing EDU8117.  Functional use of technology and being comfortable in the online world is essential if we want to stay current and contributing.  So, despite my periodic whinging, I am delighted to be here alongside you all. Thanks David for making it possible.

PS The bottle of champagne they gave me was fantastic too!

Being Critical of NGL

In response to Andrew’s post “Being Critical of NGL” and Deb’s comments

HI Andrew and Deb

I both agree and disagree with your comments.

I’m not sure that people haven’t been critical of NGL.

How much of the early isolation, confusion and frustration expressed by a number of us in the course weren’t a result of challenges with NGL?

Facilitator:

Did David err in asking for 4 technologies to be downloaded in the first week?  Was this a result of his underestimating his familiarity with the NGL environment?  Would it have been better to adopt a more graduated approach?  Or was the, “throw them in and see who learns to swim”, a deliberate ploy?  Has our network struggled to get off the ground because of the way the technology was introduced?  Would we feel more connected if we had been moving at similar paces earlier in the program?  Have some of our colleagues been left behind (abandoned) as a result of the way the program has been developed? Are we even really connected now?

Computer Literacy:

Is it reasonable to simply put things down to computer literacy (I am computer literate, however these particular technologies are unfamiliar – so what does literacy mean in this context)?  There is also literacy (familiarity) with the world of NGL with its different ways of operating.

 The Students:

There is also a prevailing assumption of dependency (“ie While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners“) which doesn’t seem to be founded on fact.  How much of this is simply based on unfamiliarity with the medium and how to operate effectively within it?  If someone was struggling to learn to ride a bike for the first time when they had never seen one before, we wouldn’t be describing them as ‘a dependent learner’.  As teachers, surely we would be reviewing our expectations … and whether we had provided adequate guidelines or instruction.  Is it unreasonable for learners to expect some degree of guidance from the ‘teaching’ authority?  Is this an issue of role expectation and lack of clarity of how that role might be changed in an NGL environment?  Should the facilitator be clear upfront as to what the students can expect/not expect?

z-bike
Image courtesy of Paul L Dineen on Flickr

Yes, critical thinking is important, however some of what might be going on could be an assumption of SEKK (Surely everybody knows knowledge).

Food for thought!

Tracey

Me as Teacher and … OMG Rocketboard!

The reason I am undertaking both the MLAD and EDU8117 (as my first unit) is to remain current , relevant and useful as a teacher/trainer/facilitator.  Given that I work in the corporate world, I want to be able to incite, assist and support learning in a variety of settings.

EDU8117 is insisting that I engage with tools that aren’t currently part of my skill and teaching set.  It’s why I am here and embracing the technology (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, yeah, yeah!).

David in his post – Knowing, learning and teaching in NGL asks us to:

focus toward how and what you might change about your teaching (and your students’ learning) through NGL.

Here is a magic example of how technology can facilitate a better student outcome and how I might change my teaching.

I am a huge whiteboard fan, whether at an organisation, delivering a conference or working with a group on individual.  I believe that the information developed for and with the people involved has greater impact that a more formalised image prepared earlier. They know its for them as they saw and helped the whiteboard evolve.  For instance, currently my individual client notes are photographs of the data developed on the whiteboard during the session.  We both have great recall of what we talked about and it doesn’t require me spending a lot of time transcribing the information into traditional text.

[Reflection:  A downside maybe that when I do transcribe the notes, a secondary level of processing and clarity occurs, however that doesn’t negate the wealth of information captured on the original whiteboard.]

One of the wonderful digital tools for collaborative learning based on my love of whiteboards is Rocketboard.  This fantastic application allows you to convert any drawable space into an online presentation or snapshot.  And others can share theirs.  It is still pre-launch, so if you think this will appeal to you then click on the Rocketboard link.

Reflection

While not as comprehensive as Hayat’s post “CLEM as teacher“, there is a part of me that does see Rocketboard as pushing my boundaries with networked learning since others can share what I am doing and contribute.

On the other hand Brendon in his post  “Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies”  points out that;

 “Attempts at integrating technology within education, however, have often focused on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the status quo, replacing traditional instructional approaches with ones that are technologically reinforced, yet qualitatively similar”

This can be true depending upon how Rocketboard is used.

Then again it might elicit the “fun, excitement,creativity, and aesthetic aspects of instruction” which are “largely lacking in educational technology implementations”.  Thanks Brendon for the summary and reference to  “Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies” by George Veletsianos.

I’ll just have to try it and see.