If I had to choose a single word that would represent my reflection of the MALAT virtual symposium presentations, it would be evolution. This is not in reference to an anthropological meaning, but through a pedagogical lens. As we are somehow constantly learning throughout our everyday lives, more and more we rely on technology. It is not the technology that learns for us, it our approach on how we use it as a tool to help educate ourselves in our self-directed learning (SDL) environments (Hmelo-Silver, 2004). These presentations and videos open the audience to new ideas on how to approach pedagogy, whether it is as an individual or within an academic environment. These ideas, in turn, add to the evolution of education.
One of my ongoing thoughts as an educator, that is constantly evolving in the back of my mind, is that of a completely online educational environment. This could be for a single project, course or an entire program. Over the years, and after some attempts, fully virtual classrooms have come and gone, and yet I still have a grandiose idea of creating a uniform formula or model of an open pedagogical system that could be applied to and all fields, topics or even problems. The exposure to the lecture by Dr. Ronadl vanOostveen (personal communication, April 19, 2016) on the topic of a proposed fully online learning community model (FOLC) gave me new insights to this idea. While his collaborative learning model is quite in-depth, it does create a new lens that combines a general technology competency and use model (GTCU) with that of a FOLC (R. vanOostveen, personal communication, April 19, 2016). However there remains more questions than answers on how this would work in any field related situation. What level of technical experience does one require to be involved? Will there be personality conflicts in these online social and educational environments? Do cultural differences interfere with the sharing of information? While Dr. vanOostveen’s model is unique and somewhat complex, it did spark some interest and I was intrigued by his approach.
One central theme that did flow through this series of micro seminars was that of open education (D. Cormier, personal communication, April 18, 2017; C. Cronin, personal communication, April 19, 2017). While this idea of an unrestricted educational setting is not new, it is however ever evolving. From my personal perspective and experience as a teacher, I have found that giving up too much supervision within an online environment tends to allow the project be set astray. However, both Cormier (personal communication, April 18, 2017) and Cronin (personal communication, April 19, 2017) did address one key central factor for a positive outcome, in that each learner involved must be intrinsically motivated in order to be successful. Legassie (personal communication, April 21, 2017) referred to those who avoid involvement in team-based projects as laggards, and tends to keep them at a distance to avoid the collapse of the group or the project. While a complete solution was not formally discussed, it was at least noted that some form of supervision or mentoring must become part of an open pedagogical structure (D. Cormier, personal communication, April 18, 2017). Along with these lectures, and future readings and research, I wish to accumulate more ideas on how to address this ongoing issue, in order to create a better meso-level learning ecosystem (D. Cormier, personal communication, April 18, 2017).
Although, many micro concepts peppered the symposium presentations, I was truly inspired by two of the student-based research symposium presentations. While the subjects of designing a faculty-development learning program (M. Verburg, personal communication, April 15, 2017) and of dealing with retention strategies in an e-Learning environment (T. Forrest, personal communication, April 18, 2017) are ongoing subjects of interest for me, it was more about the process and overview of the projects that was truly intriguing. I found that I was looking beyond the subject matter and was became more entranced in their rhizomatic learning experience (D. Cormier, personal communication, April 18, 2017). I am just at the start of a wondrous, and sometimes intimidating, stage of my life of taking on a graduate level degree. However after listening and sharing in Verburg and Forrest’s detailed explanation and outline, of their now completed final papers, this has brought the MALAT program more to a grounded perspective. Both have shared where they are now and how they evolved, all within a brief few minutes. Now it is my turn.
Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-Based Learning: What and How Do Students Learn?Educational Psychology Review, 16(3), 235–266. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1023/B:EDPR.0000034022.16470.f3