More fantastic history by Weller (2020)! He does such a great job of communicating how the technology fits into a specific time but doesn’t stop there. His ability to show both the positive and negatives of the technology and ideas provides so much to chew on. There are so many pieces that I found fascinating, but I’m only allowed to talk about two. Let’s see how I do.

A Meaningful Lesson

As I read Chapter 12 on video streaming, I found myself drawn to a section on page 89 regarding the flipped classroom. When I started teaching a few years ago, this was a frequently mentioned phrase that, at times, felt like it could have been reworded as “let the student do the work.” The idea presented to me was that lecturing was outdated and that class time should be where students are able to practice what they’ve learned while studying at home. Perhaps they have reading or a basic activity to do at home then, when they’re in class, they can discuss or practice what they’ve learned to help solidify things. It made so much sense! Why would a student want to sit through a lecture when they could do that part whenever they’d like at home? But then, after a term or two of teaching, I realized that students don’t always want to do that work at home. Sometimes what they really want is to have an instructor talk to them about the curriculum. It felt as though there were a few different perspectives at work. For some it may have been a “I’m paying for you to teach me, not watch me practice.” For others it seemed like it was “If I have to come to class, I don’t want to just sit and do things I could do at home.” But the biggest issue for me was that students would rarely do what was necessary before class, resulting in class time that was spent trying to correct that problem, and no time to do that work we were going to do that would help solidifying the ideas/concepts/skills.

It just wasn’t sustainable. When I read Weller’s (2020) thoughts about how “following a prescriptive approach or failing to accommodate for the increased load on students and educators can be a result of pursuing an educational trend” (p. 89), it struck me that this was exactly how I had felt, but didn’t know how to articulate it. The idea of the flipped classroom felt so sensible, but maybe the balance hadn’t been considered. I felt (and still do) that students need to take responsibility for their education but requiring them to do most of the work at home can be unfair to them. When I started to consider how students must balance school, work, family, etc., the idea of pushing a large portion of their education into that other space felt almost distasteful me. Why couldn’t I work to help them create a better balance within their education time? Could I trim away activities or pieces of a course that were not completely necessary in order to allow the student to use their time in a more targeted way? Could I provide them with a few articles and videos they could read on their own time, paired with brief teaching time in-class that is followed by in-class practice? Weller’s piece on the flipped classroom helped remind me that academic trends will always be around, and they may be a brilliant idea, but they must be balanced against the needs of the student; needs which go far beyond the educational space.

A Conflicting Lesson

Our school is working hard to integrate micro-credentials into courses. How this will look in each program is still up in the air, but I struggle to see its place within education and the workplace. I refer to both education and the workplace because education is not a vacuum, and what is done within an educational space should also meet the needs of prospective employers. Does a single micro-credential show an employer that an applicant has enough breadth of knowledge to do a job? What about a whole series of micro-credentials? And how does a bunch of micro-credentials differ from what we’re doing right now? As Weller (2020) discussed the benefits and challenges of micro-credentials, I found myself challenged to open myself up to this idea and to try to shift my understanding of how education could function. Perhaps it serves a strong purpose within the educational sphere, allowing students to transfer learning across program or institution. But is that enough? I keep coming back to all the questions in my mind about how interconnected education can be and whether it is truly in the students’ or employers’ best interest to have education boiled down to that level. I’m not sure I fully agree with micro-credentialing, but I appreciate the challenge and perspective Weller (2020) brought to this topic.

 


Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01