Knee 2.0


I have not posted for quite a while, with the primary reason being an upgrade of my old body.  My colleague Jeff Nugent termed my pending knee replacement as an upgrade to Knee 2.0, which seemed very appropriate.

So a little over two weeks ago, the good team at West End Orthopaedic retooled me with titanium parts.  I have been recovering a home for the past 14 days, and see new improvements each day.  It was definitely time for the upgrade!

It has also given me some time to think and ponder the retooling that education is undergoing!

If you did not catch it earlier this month, Lisa Lane had an important article published in FIRST MONDAY entitled “Insidious Pedagogy: How Course Management Systems Impact Teaching.”  Her point – right on target I think – was that the default settings on most CMS have an implied pedagogy, and because most faculty do not work and play online, most faculty accept the defaults and therefore the given pedagogy – whether it fits their content, their discipline specific pedagogy, or their own style.

I was thinking about this because prior to going in for my upgrade, I had begun working with six fellow faculty in a year-long exploration of online teaching and learning.  Our faculty learning community explored my online class first, and then two weeks ago, explored another member’s approach – one that was radically different from mine.

I consider myself pretty adept at elearning, having taught online now for a dozen years.  Yet, this look at new approaches is tugging at my comfort zone, because I have fallen guilty of the view that “my” way of teaching online is “the” way of teaching online.  Not that I do not do a great job – I do – but I use a fairly structured and hands-on approach to build a learning community that then has the freedom to use open approaches to learning as they grow comfortable with them.  In other words, drawing from Lane’s comments, I make my students work and play online some before turning them loose.

My colleague has developed a brilliant certification process that allows one to start at any point, proceed at any speed, work toward certification if desired, or simply work towards self-development without the academic credentialing requirement (and at no cost).  In other words, a true open content process.

Just as in retooling myself physically, I also need to retool my thought processes and open myself to new approaches in teaching and learning online.  My faculty learning community is occurring at the right time and place!

I am also starting Curtis Bonk’s book The World is Open.  In full disclosure, the publisher sent it to me at no charge, but it does look timely and helpful to retooling my thinking.  I’ll blog more about it as I go through it.

I would be interested in your thoughts regarding online teaching and learning.  I have been wedded to the concept of a community of learners as a prerequisite for successful online classes, yet we now are entering a world of social networking and informal communities that coalesce around topics of interest.  In the structured world of higher education, what is the right approach for elearning?

{Photo Credit: Larry Page}

One thought on “Knee 2.0

  1. I love the idea of students tearing off after whatever rabbit they choose to chase in learning, whenever they have the inclination. However, if we always create learning opportunities that are student controlled we risk in impairing the graduate’s ability to fit into controlled organizations.
    Britt can confirm that I love to challenge the system (I’m well known for being dragged into the principle’s office), but I believe that we also need to manage some classes in a way that forces the student into team rolls and in ways that simulates the structure of organizations an businesses.
    On another note… is their some potential application of Blanchard’s “Situational Leadership” to this decision process? Is it possible that a freshman would need a different learning environment that a senior or a graduate student? Using Blanchard, a freshman might be the “enthusiastic learner” who craves knowledge but needs more direction while a graduate student is a competent performer who should have more control of their own learning delegated to them. Blanchard’s model encouraged a slow relaxation of control by the leader on a continuum as the follower (student) gains competence and commitment.

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