The 30-Day Challenge Recap

30 Day ChallengeEnoch Hale has captured all the questions he, I and others asked during the 30-Day Challenge.  See his post at “Day 30!!! – Thinking Directions.

I previously linked to his first 15 days worth..here is his second 15 days..all worth reading:

Looking forward to new digital challenges!

{Graphic: Bikram Yoga}

Why Networked Learning?

Jeff Nugent, Joyce Kincannon and I sat down this morning to record a podcast that riffed off of our GRAD-602 class last night.  We had continued our exploration of digital practices, focusing on communication and collaboration. We started last week with a Shirky quote last week on the largest increase in expressive capacity ever.  Another quote that inspires us and aligned with last night:

“In conversation we think out loud together, trying to understand. … The Web releases thoughts before they’re ready so we can work on them together. And in those conversations we hear multiple understandings of the world, for conversation thrives on difference. ” (David WeinbergerEverything is Miscellaneous (2007, p. 203)

podcastIn that spirit, we looked at practices associated with communication, such as email (parodied as the breakthrough communication that opened the professor’s door…but continues to be primarily a broadcast mechanism), video conferencing, and networked communications such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.We then shifted to digital collaboration, noting the overlap in many of these processes / practices we have already covered.  One example we showed was Mike Wesch’s class wiki, tying in student-generated content with tweets and blog posts and empowering students to co-construct their course.

We were trying to move our students beyond new ways to do old things.  Mike Wesch‘s open class offered up new ways to do new things…such as his World Simulation.  Another example of digital imagination is Wikipedia.  At the same time that Microsoft was spending massive dollars to create Encarta – a CD based encyclopedia produced by known experts, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia, letting anyone collaboratively write and share articles.  There are now 4.4 million articles in the English version alone … though Wikipedia is now in 287 languages.  Globally, it is now the fifth most heavily used website.  This departure from “expert-driven” style took digital imagination.

This morning, we discussed the “So What?” question.  What makes networked learning compelling?  Take a listen…and add your thoughts using the comment feature below.

{Photo courtesy of Bud Deihl}

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30-Day Challenge – Day 30 – The Questions I Did Not Ask

Back on March 5th, my colleague Enoch Hale posted a challenge on his blog:

“I want to pose an open challenge: Post an out-of-the-box question about teaching and learning each day for 30 days.”

3 month statsI took him up on his challenge…though I suggested “thirty work days”…to which he agreed.  Over the past six weeks, we have each posted 58 questions – 29 each.  In the process, we have both improved in our blogging.  The biggest “challenge” in a 30-Day Challenge is blogging consistently each work day.  It stretched me time wise and intellectually…but it also was a lot of fun.  Enoch and I fed off of each other.  And…not surprisingly, when one blogs daily, one’s readership increases.  I topped a hundred page views for Day 20 (The New Nomads) and Day 25 (The Training Wheel Question).

Enoch noted on his first day that questions can drive thinking forward.  Answers stop thinking, but questions keep thinking moving.  Over the past six weeks, I have paid more attention to questions being asked.  I have started following Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question.  Maryellen Weimer blogged last month about “The Art of Asking Question,” suggesting that if we want students to ask thoughtful questions, we have to model that ourselves.

Tony Bates in his studyTony Bates out of Canada has been asking thoughtful questions for 45 years about distance and online learning.  His post yesterday took me by surprise – “Time to retire from online learning?

First, Tony turned 75 this week (congratulations!). He has decided he has reached the point in his life to stop nearly all professional activities.  At 75, he feels he has reached the right to stop (…which could mean I now have 11 years to continue, since I will soon turn 64…).  He wants to stop when he is still at his best.  He has not taught a full course in ten years, and:

“Given the pace of change, it is dangerous for a consultant to become adrift from the reality of teaching and management. It’s time to hang up my boots before I get really hurt (or more importantly, really hurt others).”

Tony then expressed some concerns about the future of higher education and teaching.  Four quotes hit me…and the emphasis below is mine:

“…It’s a full-time job just to keep abreast of new developments in online and distance learning, and this constant change is not going to go away. It’s tempting to say that it’s only the technology that changes; the important things – teaching and learning – don’t change much, but I don’t believe that to be true, either. Teaching in higher education is about to go through as major a revolution as one can imagine. This is not going to be easy; indeed it could get brutal…

…this is a field that needs full-time, professional application, and very hard work, and I just don’t have the energy any more to work at that level. To put it simply, this is not a profession where you can be half in and half out. Dabbling in online learning is very dangerous (politicians please note)…

…And then there’s MOOCs. I can’t express adequately just how pissed off I am about MOOCs – not the concept, but all the hubris and nonsense that’s been talked and written about them. At a personal level, it was as if 45 years of work was for nothing. All the research and study I and many others had done on what makes for successful learning online were totally ignored, with truly disastrous consequences in terms of effective learning for the vast majority of participants who took MOOCs from the Ivy League universities. Having ignored online learning for nearly 20 years, Stanford, MIT and Harvard had to re-invent online learning in their own image to maintain their perceived superiority in all things higher educational. And the media fell for it, hook, line and sinker. This is a battle I no longer want to fight – but it needs fighting…

…Lastly, I am concerned that the computer scientists seem to be taking over online education. Ivy League MOOCs are being driven mainly by computer scientists, not educators. Politicians are looking to computer science to automate learning in order to save money. Computer scientists have much to offer, but they need more humility and a greater willingness to work with other professionals, such as psychologists and teachers, who understand better how learning operates. This is a battle that has always existed in educational technology, but it’s one I fear the educators are losing…”

I need to reflect on Tony’s post much more, but his very personal reflection lays the groundwork for many more thoughtful questions.  It brought to my mind my final question for THIS 30-day Challenge:

Day 30 – What are the questions I did not ask but should have?

There are obviously many more than thirty good questions left to ask…so while this challenge has ended, the challenge for higher education is only getting more intense.  If more educators joined the open questioning within the blogosphere. maybe we can win some battles.  As Tony noted, this is not a field you can be half in and half out.

Thoughts?

{Graphics: Bates}

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30-Day Challenge – Day 29 – Your Teaching Tombstone

Hollywood Cemetary Richmond VAIf you ever want a relaxing walk on a spring day, nothing beats wandering the 130 acres of Hollywood Cemetery near our campus of VCU.  Rolling hills, old trees, winding paths, and the resting place of U.S. Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jeff Davis.

For those that track these things, it is a forty-minute walk from the VCU gym to President Monroe‘s tomb and back…but I am not pushing it…I am enjoying the walk, the scenery, and the glimpse back into Richmond history.  I do tend to pause a couple of minutes at the President’s burial site, as the view of the James River is excellent.

I find the inscriptions on tombstones fascinating as I wander.  There are cases of spouses who died within days of each other and other cases of (typically) wives outliving their husbands by fifty years.  Lots of Civil War graves and lots of Civil War veterans who lived into the 20th Century.

On some stones, you find where someone attempted to sum this person’s life with a single sentence.

Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, discussed this concept in his article “Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.” Berger noted:

What is your sentence? is a question designed to help you distill purpose and passion to its essence by formulating a single sentence that sums up who you are and what, above all, you aim to achieve.

“…It’s a favorite question of To Sell is Human author Daniel Pink, who acknowledges in his book Drive that it can be traced back to the journalist and pioneering Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce. While visiting John F. Kennedy early in his presidency, Luce expressed concern that Kennedy might be in danger of trying to do too much, thereby losing focus. She told him “a great man is a sentence”–meaning that a leader with a clear and strong purpose could be summed up in a single line (e.g., “Abraham Lincoln preserved the union and freed the slaves.”).

Pink believes this concept can be useful to anyone, not just presidents. Your sentence might be, “He raised four kids who became happy, healthy adults,” or “She invented a device that made people’s lives easier.” If your sentence is a goal not yet achieved, then you also must ask: How might I begin to live up to my own sentence?”

So my 30-Day Challenge question for today (…and we are nearing the end of the challenge!):

Day 29 – What would I want listed on my teaching tombstone?

blank tombstoneTom Peters in some of his presentations used to use this tombstone metaphor.

He suggested that we would not see on Winston Churchill’s tomb:

He brought World War Two in on budget

…or on Ghandi’s tomb:

Grand Prize, Continuous Improvement, Spinning Wheel Division

So what would we want on our teaching tombstone that summarized our teaching in one sentence?

I would suggest that it should not be…

Excelled at using Blackboard

or

An Easy A“…

Maybe something like…

Transformed the lives of his/her students” …

or

Created a thirst for more learning” …

or simply

Made a difference.”

Berger quoted Dropbox founder Drew Houston, who said:

“The most successful people are obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball.” To increase your chances of happiness and success, Houston said, you must “find your tennis ball–the thing that pulls you.”

So maybe my tombstone would read simply:

He found his tennis ball

dog and tennis ballThoughts?

{Graphics: Shelley Beatty, John Stephens, Michal O}

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30-Day Challenge – Day 28 – Class Knowledge Sharing Paradox

Harold Jarche blogged about the knowledge sharing paradox today.  He defined this paradox as one where:

“….enterprise social tools can constrain what they are supposed to enhance. People will freely share their knowledge if they remain in control of it because knowledge is a very personal thing. Knowledge workers care about what they need to get work done, but do they care about the organizational knowledge base?”

pair of docks

A “Pair of Docks”

He went on to suggest that the more someone in leadership attempts to control knowledge-sharing, the less knowledge gets shared.

“The only way to build useful organizational knowledge is by connecting it to individual knowledge-sharing…The responsibility for knowledge-sharing must remain with the individual, but the organization can collect, collate and redistribute what is shared…The organization’s role in knowledge-sharing then moves from being directive to facilitative.”

I think there are interesting parallels to classrooms…and educational organizations.  My 30-Day Challenge question:

Day 28 – Can I create more sharing of student-generated knowledge or faculty-generated knowledge by working less at controlling it?

The Educause Learning Initiative released this month “7 Things You Should Know About Web Syndication.”  It noted that:

“Web syndication applies the principles of discovery and distribution to the online environment, offering content producers and readers a flexible, powerful, and largely automated means of accessing and distributing content…Information coming from a wide variety of sources may broaden student learning horizons as it inspires discovery, curation, and sharing.”

Six years ago, I led a brown-bag discussion here at the Center for Teaching Excellence on Personal Learning Environments.  Interesting to go back and see that this slide deck has been viewed over 3,600 times.  In a micro way, it suggests how distributed learning has progressed…and how knowledge has been shared  My point in this slidedeck was to use RSS to build an automated way to access and distribute content.  Fast forward six years, and one can now build customized class websites with WordPress that allow for this automated means of accessing and distributing content.  Last week in GRAD-602, we discussed content creation and curation…and we sometimes have a hard time separating the two.  As Jeff Nugent noted in a conversation this morning, we have gone from “personal” learning environments to group learning environments.

The technology is easy…it is the practice that may be the harder nut to crack.  As my colleague Enoch Hale noted in “We are all mutants,” we need to help “…faculty (like our students) imagine new possibilities.”

Part of that hard nut is developing a digital community for faculty that thrives and grows.  We have attempted that in the past with Blackboard, Ning, Canvas, and blogs.  All took off initially and then died within a few months.  The time commitment and return on investment just was not there for most faculty… and perhaps we were trying to control it too hard. For some, though, a loosely formed community did grow – but ebbed in and out – within Twitter.

In our Office of Innovation, we are trying a new space – A Third Space - as a place to aggregate digital exhaust from any of us in the office.  It is a form of web syndication…but is it community?  Would a similar space within a “class” help students take ownership of their digital work…and would it have legs to last beyond the single semester?

I would be interested in your thoughts….

{Graphic: New Wave Docks … but “pair of docks” stolen directly from Harold…) :-) }

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30-Day Challenge – Day 27 – Future Proofing

A decade ago, Ernst and Young led a strategic visioning retreat for the technical college where I worked.  Over three days, a mix of college leadership and faculty met in a big room high above the Atlanta scene, looking out over both the city and Stone Mountain in the distance.  The room was reconfigured each day with moveable white board walls and comfortable furniture.  Toys and books lay scattered around the floor.  We spent time drawing our visions on the walls and then looking for common themes.

markers.
It was one of the best strategic experience in which I have ever participated…and so when I see something from Ernst and Young, I pay attention.

Their Australian branch has a study out on “The University of the Future.”  While focused on Australian universities – the study interviewed 40 Australian leaders from public and private universities as well as policy makers – I believe that the lessons are applicable to higher education worldwide.  It noted that higher education is a “…thousand year old industry on the cusp of profound change.”

In the report, they state that change will be driven by five trends:

  • Democratization of knowledge and access
  • Contestability of markets and funding
  • Digital technologies
  • Global mobility
  • Integration with industry

Any of us in higher education could probably agree that these trends are not coming…they are already here.  From the perspective of E&Y, universities will need to adapt, creating leaner business models and concentrating resources on a smaller range of programs.  They see universities transforming into three broad lines of evolution:

  • Streamlined Status Quo – broad-based public teaching and research institutions
  • Niche Dominators – tailored education, research and service for specific customer segments
  • Transformers – private providers for new markets

Ernst and Young laid out a framework for assessing and designing a “university future model.”

Ernst and Young modelI was struck by the strategic questions – “Is our current model future proof?  Where should we play?  How should we play?

The model explores higher education as a whole, but it opens up for me questions about each course and each faculty member…and their own approach to teaching.  Teaching today should not be about a steamlined status quo.  To be future-proof, I would suggest that we lean more towards the concepts behind the niche dominators or transformers.  My 30-Day Challenge question for today:

Day 26 – How do I make my course future proof?

By future proof, I mean that I have made my course a space for connections and learning…not a three-credit credential.  My course would be relevant (a moving target) and grow in students the digital skills they will need to be competitive in their future…no matter the field or place.  My course would integrate ideas developed globally…and help students find their voice in a global world.  I do not want my students to “pass”…I want them to be so distinctive that they stand out.  My course should be an opportunity for students to brand themselves.   My students should embody what  Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead stated:

You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”

To me, this suggests playing in the open…using the affordances of the digital web.  While my course might have a start date and a date in which grades are submitted, students would be welcome to stay, continue playing, and play with those that come after them.  The course would be in perpetual beta as I and my students continually updated it to keep it relevant.

Maybe it is….

Drw the Future

{Graphics: CORC, Ernst and Young, Watwood, Gogia}

 

 

 

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30-Day Challenge – Day 26 – Deeper Explorations

Submaring divingAs part of the 30-Day Question Challenge, Enoch Hale posted “Going Beneath The Surface“, where he asked “How often do we journey into the unknown?”

As a retired Navy sailor, I immediately pictured a submarine diving when I saw his title.

Enoch asked:

“When I think about teaching and learning, I have to ask: do we carve out places (a lot of them) to explore beneath the surface of things? I’d rather not carve out those places. I’d rather my course be that place. I’d rather exploration define the learning.”

…exploration define the learning…

We went exploring last night in GRAD-602.  Our topic was “Developing Learning Content: Creation and Curation.”  As the students came in, they found this Clay Shirky quote from Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization in larger than life size on the class wall (thanks Laura!):

“We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capacity in the history of the human race…more people can communicate more things to more people than has ever been possible in the past, and the size and speed of this increase, from under one million participants to over one billion in a generation, makes the change unprecedented.”

Laura writing Shirky quote on wall

Through a series of short vignettes, we explored with the class the creation practices of screencasting, audio recordings, blogging, and slide creation, using Screencast-O-Matic, Soundcloud, WordPress, Prezi, HaikuDeck and Slideshark.  We also explored the concept of curation, using YouTube playlists, Diigo, Netvibes, Feedly, and Merlot (the free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials…not the wine).

This morning, Laura, Joyce Kincannon and I continued this exploration in a podcast.  The practices we covered last night were not “new”…they have been out for a few years.  Yet few in the class seemed aware of them or had played with them.  In the podcast, we riffed off of Enoch’s idea of “going deeper” to suggest that our role as academics is to explore, play and go deeper into trying new practices for learning.  We also discussed some compelling uses of digital technology that we have seen in teaching and learning.

This idea of exploration and play…and learning through exploration and play, surfaced several times.  In a hall conversation with Gardner Campbell this morning, I mentioned the conservative nature of PhD students in general, and he noted that breaking the cycle and self-perpetuation of conservative approaches to teaching is a challenge of higher education. If we are indeed “… living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capacity in the history of the human race…”, should that not surface in our approaches to teaching and learning?

Which leads to my question for today:

Day 26 – How can learning in my classes move from covering content to deeper (and playful) explorations?

Give a listen…and the submarine diving alarm is for Jeff and Enoch who missed this recording:
.

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{Graphics: SubSeaWorld, Watwood}

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30-Day Challenge – Day 25 – The Training Wheel Question

My colleague Jon Becker in our Office of Online Academic Programs here at VCU posted an interesting Twitter conversation in his blog post today.  He noted that it started with a live tweet by Jesse Stommel of Jim Groom’s presentation at #et4online. Derek Bruff responded with what he tagged an honest question, and Jon responded as shown below:

Twitter-jonbecker_@derekbruff@Jessifer@jimgroom

Jon went on to quote Steve Jobs that computers were like bicycles for the mind, and that as such, they allowed us the ability to soar.  Jon’s point was:

If computers are like bicycles for our mind (and I believe they are!), the Learning Management System (LMS) is perfectly analogous to the training wheels.  Riding a bicycle with training wheels on is relatively safe and it can get you from point A to point B, albeit slowly. But, one hasn’t *really* learned to ride a bike until the training wheels come off. Taking the training wheels off liberates the operator of the bike and affords her the freedom to really move and soar and do amazing tricks. Taking the training wheels off of the open web liberates the learning and affords the teachers and the learners to really move and soar and do amazing things.

In many ways, Jon’s point is similar to Lisa Lane’s point three days ago that classes within an LMS isolate students.  To mash up her tweet:

Lisa Lane tweet.
Both Jon and Lisa (and Jim Groom) are totally correct.  But my mind returns to Derek’s point…and questions of policy during a period of disruptive transition.  Very few faculty (at least at my institution) have the digital literacy to drop an LMS cold turkey and move to their own domain.  Our twelve schools and colleges, our IT personnel and  our HelpDesk are not staffed to support faculty in the absence of an LMS.

training wheelsSo weaving a path between Jon/Jim/Lisa’s ideal and the pragmatic realities of a faculty wedded to a decade of LMS use, how do we begin a campus wide conversation and develop a timeline to achieve this excellent goal?  To my mind, the training wheels will not come off until we have faculty buy-in and a clear timeline for transitioning, with a safety net for current faculty as they transition to the open web.  It is not a pipedream to visualize a more open (and amazing) educational landscape.  In GRAD-602, we already suggest that future faculty will teach and learn in an open web, making full use of the affordances of the web (and we model what we suggest with our fully open class website).  But we also suggest to these future faculty that they should approach digital opportunities in a mindful way.  LMS systems solve some problems (FERPA, grades) while creating others (stifled creativity).  Before we dump one, we should solve the problems it has already solved…and do it at scale, so that thousands of faculty are not left scrambling at a time they are already loaded down with research, teaching and service commitments.

Derek’s honest question inspired my 30-Day Challenge question for today:

Day 25 – How do we in faculty development support the digital presence of 3,000 faculty without something like an LMS?

Honest question, indeed.  Be interested in how your campuses are tackling this issue?

{Graphics: Becker, Lane, Motorbike}

 

 

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30-Day Challenge – Day 24 – Bricolage and Course Design

I have been enamored with the concept of bricolage for some time now. French for “tinkering”, bricolage is the building of something from what is available.  Sherry Turkle applied this to programming, suggesting less an exhaustive specification than a iterative growth process with re-evaluation loops.  Turkle writes:

“The bricoleur resembles the painter who stands back between brushstrokes, looks at the canvas, and only after this contemplation, decides what to do next.”

MacGyverIn the late 1980s, we were all introduced to this concept when each week we tuned in to the television show MacGyver.  MacGyver could solve any problem with the materials laying around him.

This idea is a nice metaphor for how the web has evolved in the past decade.  There are now many options for content creation, communication, sharing, and community building laying all over the interwebs…as some of my colleagues call it.  Over the past five years, we in the Center for Teaching Excellence have tinkered a lot as we explored digital technologies that were now available and probed how they might be useful in an educational context.

Stephen Downes shared a link from Inge de Waard yesterday which summarize a new report released from the Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme out of the UK that explored building online learning solutions that are durable – Beyond Prototypes: Enabling Innovation in Technology-Enhanced Learning.

Stephen’s synthesis of this report:

  • “TEL involves a complex system of technologies and practices…it is necessary to look beyond product development and pay close attention to the entire process of implementation.
  • Significant innovations are developed and embedded over periods of years rather than months. Sustainable change is not a simple matter of product development, testing and roll-out.
  • TEL innovation is a process of bricolage… It also requires engagement with a range of communities and practices.
  • Successful implementation of TEL innovation requires evidence that the projected educational goal has been achieved.”

This resonated with me.  We are in the process of updating our Online Course Development Initiative at VCU.  The OCDI has evolved over the years into a “…complex system of technologies and practices” that does span years rather than months:

  • An online sensitizing activity before joining a cohort to surface preconceived beliefs about online teaching and learning.
  • A week-long cohort process to build community and explore online teaching practices and processes.
  • A three-week online experience to better understand collaborative learning and co-construction of knowledge from the perspective of a student
  • A long-term relationship with a design consultant to develop and teach an online course, providing pacing for development and a safety net for exploration.
  • Teaching the course for the first time and reflecting on successes and challenges
  • Redesign of the course, taking into account the data collected during the first iteration.

Over the past four years, we have engaged 77 faculty members in the development of 74 courses.  Yet I would suggest that we are only in the early days of “sustainable change.”  Some of these courses are still under development or have not yet been redeveloped.  We have the beginnings of a community. As we move forward, we need to continue the process of bricolage…engaging with and building this community.

As part of that tinkering, we should keep Lisa Lane’s comment this week in mind:

“We think of our online classes as being on the web, but most of them aren’t on the web – they’re inside an LMS, isolated from the internet. New online instructors often sense this sterility and add images and videos. But the images are often decorative rather than instructional, and the videos are now embedded, which is great for convenience and less distraction but less suitable for exploration…

…Where are the structured web spaces, the ones where we as teachers know what’s there, but where students can explore? Databases full of primary sources are boring. Where is the equivalent of installation art, where the artist defines the space but the interpretations and experience are left to the viewer?”

Great questions!  The UK report above has some interesting observations:

“…the tools of educational technology have no magical power in themselves, only by being embedded in the practices of teachers and learners do their mediational means come into play…”

“…Technology should only ever be considered as supportive of educational practice, never as core to it…”

“…successful innovations in TEL [technology enhanced learning] are often not new inventions.  They more often involve assembly of technological elements and practices, most of which already exist, into novel configurations, applied in new settings…”

The model presented in the UK report suggests the complexity in creating a sustainable online practice:

TEL Innovation Model

The UK report suggests that it is a misconception to think of “technology” as the innovation.  The innovation is in the mindful use of the technology.  Creating that mindfulness takes time, tinkering, and…as the report suggested…”persistent intent.”

So my 30-Day Challenge question today is:

Day 24 – How might my teaching practice be informed and sustainably changed for the better by tinkering with open resources on the web?

…keeping in mind – stay focused on the learning, not the cool tools…

Thoughts?

Graphics: Box Theory, tel.ioe.ac.uk}

 

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30-Day Challenge – Day 23 – Trust, Leadership and Learning

Harold Jarche had an thoughtful post – really a series of quotes – today – “Move the hierarchy to the rear.”  Harold started with a quote from the Harvard Business Review:

In an environment where everyone is a leader, some other mechanism needs to be put in place to ensure that everyone can maintain and optimize the tenets of fairness, trust and transparency so the entire organization can move forward. – Harrison Monarth: HBR

Harold is focused on business leadership, and the “other mechanism” he suggests is “the wirearchy framework,” proposed by Jon Husband as a web-based alternative to the hierarchical model.

But what if we changed one word in the Monarth quote?

In an environment where everyone is a learner, some other mechanism needs to be put in place to ensure that everyone can maintain and optimize the tenets of fairness, trust and transparency so the entire organization can move forward.

For me, the wirearchy framework can work just as well in a classroom.  Jarche goes on to state:

Solving problems is what most knowledge workers are hired to do. But complex problems usually cannot be solved alone. They require the sharing of tacit knowledge, which cannot easily be put into a manual. Tacit knowledge flows best in trusted networks. Trust promotes individual autonomy and this becomes a foundation for social learning. Without trust, few are willing to share their knowledge. An effective knowledge network also cultivates the diversity and autonomy of each worker. Connected leaders foster deeper connections, developed through ongoing and meaningful conversations. They understand the importance of tacit knowledge in solving complex problems. Connected leaders know they are just a node in the network and not a position in a hierarchy.

networks and nodes - gapingvoid cartoonNow again…think classroom…

  • Solving complex problems…
  • Sharing of tacit knowledge…
  • Trusted networks…
  • Individual autonomy and social learning…
  • Deeper connections…
  • Ongoing and meaningful conversations…

“Connected leaders know they are just a node in the network and not a position in a hierarchy.”

I would submit that connected teachers likewise understand that they are a node in a learning network.  They understand trust, leadership and learning.  This aligns so well with the connectivism approach to learning!

For my 30-Day Challenge question today, I am wondering…

Day 23 – How can I lead from the rear to build trust and facilitate networked learning as a norm in my class?

In another Jarche post – Hierarchies are Obsolete – Harold noted that hierarchies may technically be networks, but they are simply branching ones, good when information flow is one-way and down.  Hierarchies do not facilitate creativity or innovation.  Some classes I have seen in higher education seem to be set up to facilitate the one-way flow of “content” without engaging the students.  In today’s rapidly evolving knowledge era, co-learning with your students seems to be more aligned with the digital world in which our students (and we) reside.

So open up, build trust, and let the learning flow (with all its messiness).  As Harold noted:

“Evolution is on the side of those who cooperate.”

Thoughts?

{Graphic: GapingVoid}

 

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