At EduSoCal 2013 I was able to collaborate and speak with other EdTech and Instructional Design professionals. EduSoCal (@EduSoCal), is “the premier face-to-face conference in California where you Meet/Share/Learn/Play with your local peers and colleagues working in the fields of Information and Educational technology.”
The Keynote Address by Michael Wesch (@mwesch) was not only informational, but affirming as well. Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture and his speech gave some valuable insight on Transformative Learning Theory and new media.
Wesch stated, “asking questions is the most amazing thing humans do; questions are the beginning point of deep learning.” Therefore, his basic theme involved helping students “Learn to Learn”.
In designing his courses, he doesn’t design them for the sake of instruction, but for Transformative Learning. As stated in an earlier post, this learning theory focuses on how the learner will revise and interpret learning to change their point of view. Transformative Learning is the process of changing one’s frame of reference.
Michael Wesch discussed how in education we need to embrace Transformative Learning by enabling students to become adaptive experts rather than passive absorbers of information. His focus is on stimulating wonder. He stimulates wonder by allowing his students to A) pick a project and B) pick new media. By allowing the students to pick their projects and media it helps the students accomplish a goal without the want for a grade.
An example of one such project is when students decided to research the accessibility of a city by bicycle. They used a free source Internet Map (similar to GoogleMaps) to map out dangerous areas for bikes. The result was visible evidence of how poorly the city was designed for bikes. Even more significant, the project caught the eye of city council and brought on change to the infrastructure.
When asked, which three instructional tools/techniques he’d bring to a deserted Island (while ignoring the logical problems of this scenario) to teach. He described a three step process:
1) Make sure that the Project is Real and Relevant. Real meaning that the instructor does not know the answer. And Relevant means that students will work on it even if a grade is not associated with the project.
2) The project must Build Community (like the biking community).
3) The project must Leverage Technology (like the bike map).
What is also important is that the core assumption for IT people should be that of connecting people. Don’t use technology for technology’s sake. Use technology to connect or build community. My goal of this blog is not just to use a blog, but to gain a following of like-minded people or people also interested in EdTech and Instructional Design.
Finally, a poignant statement made by Wesch is that “technology is a Trojan horse for changing education, but it needs an army inside the horse.” What he meant by this is that technology is a great way to change education, however, you still need a slew of people or EdTech professionals (the army) to conquer (change) education.
Now, I’ll leave you with one last thought (and please comment below or tweet @julietausend): How do you convince administration and other colleagues to not only support but design a Transformative Learning experience with the appropriate technologies?