Can I Really be Messy? Please, Please?
Can I really be messy? Can I really?
Gardner Campbell asserts in his article, “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning,” that “Offering students the possibility of experiential learning in personal, interactive, networked computing—in all its gloriously messy varieties—provides the richest opportunity yet for integrative thinking within and beyond “schooling.”” And in my world, implementing networked learning in my classroom would indeed be “messy.” (Just to give a little perspective, when I went through high school algebra, we still learned log tables to actually use them in computing answers. ) I didn’t grow up in the computer age. Google is my best friend when it comes to navigating my steep learning curve of technology. And I struggle to understand and effectively use basic apps like Facebook.
Okay, the cards are on the table. I am a messy proposition for networked learning. But…I see my granddaughter daily interact in networks she created on many different fronts. She actively learns daily from these networks, with connections that span the country. Also, as I read Tim Hitchcock’s article, I was like “yeah, preach it!” when he advocated taking academic conversations further than the conventional direction of “having small (vociferous) conversations amongst ourselves…” While these conversations can be engaging, I can’t help but think, “Is this the biggest audience you envision for your work? For your knowledge? Do you always want to put your work in terms only a few will ever understand? Do you not care that the wider world learns from your knowledge?” Hitchcock pointed to blogging as a way to reach a much wider audience and network with those interested in your research, academics or those outside of the academy.
So…in light of the wisdom I’ve gained from my granddaughter and Tim Hitchcock, I become particularly pricked/intrigued/troubled/challenged by Michael Wesch’s question “How do I take my students from getting by to learning?” I too see many students in “getting by” mode not “learning mode”. Right now, I just can’t help but think, wow, what a challenge…. especially in a freshman level survey class. So as a start for this course in our discussion of network learning I would begin by thinking “Can network learning be a possible avenue to help students go from “getting by” mode to “learning mode”? If so, what would work? Would something like the hypothe.is platform be helpful? How could I use such a platform to encourage critical thinking? To encourage asking broader questions? Would blogging create experiential learning? If so, what questions, types of posts, etc. would do that?”
All the above questions aside, in reality, any pedagogical statement of purpose or philosophy of teaching, I believe, starts with a desire – a mission to implement something such as “learning” rather than “getting by”. I also believe that beginning any such mission would be messy. Me, as an instructor of record, could look messy…Is that okay? Is it?
Perhaps, instructors need the freedom to be like baby George, strike out, fall down, get up again, learn and try again.
I’m sure though, that we wouldn’t be quite as cute as George.