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Liberation in quick gulps…

33 micro-structuresI have been looking forward to the Liberating Structures Workshop for ages – since I first learned about it at the Fall ETUG event. I had big ambitions to visit the site and explore all the blog posts and descriptions of the 33 liberating structures but, as with many of the other participants here, I ran out of time. 

We began Day 1 with a familiar activity with a twist – Impromptu Networking was a focused "meet & greet" activity – timed cycles where we paired up and shared what we hoped to get from the workshop and what we could contribute, and a challenge we hoped to focus on. I've done smiliar icebreakers before but liked the 3 cycles we went through with a debrief with Keith McCandless & team to really think about the value and purpose of the action.

And the rest of the day progressed from there – we walked the talk for sure – involved in activities with short bursts of guiding discussion and instructions between each brief but intense "gulps" of learning. Some participants questioned the consistent chime and bell nudges but it kept a group of disparate individuals (over a 100) moving through and experiencing and even sharing reflections throughout the day. Lots more to write about but I'm about to start Day 2.

Last thought:  I did a rough review of my notes and we tested and reflected / "unpacked" our experiences of over 12 different micro-structures. Definitely the co-developer of Liberating Structures Keith McCandless and his "Dream Team":  Tracy Kelly, BCcampus Professional Learning, Leva Lee, Open Learning/ETUG, Kele Fleming, UBC CTLT and, Cathy , Shawna Fenwick, consultant, and Fisher Qua, consultant  were amazing and provided me with all kinds of ideas to make my next facilitation event flow smoothly and provide a great experience for participants.

 

Warming up for FLO Design Sprint

Warm-upTuesday morning, February 2

I sprang out of bed at 5:45 (the time my chocolate lab usually body-bumps my side of the bed in the hopes that I'll want to get up to feed her) mentally running down the checklist of all the things I had still wanted to get reviewed and noted to be ready for our first Sprint Day!!

Luckily my dorm room at Royal Roads University has wireless internet so I was able to get to my web notes and hyperlinks. Don't want to miss any of the bits and pieces I've been collecting to share with FLO facilitators!

BCcampus folks finally made it happen – thanks Tracy and BJ and SylviaC!

We've been talking about getting together (all us FLO facilitators) synchronously and physically to rethink the Facilitating Learning Online workshop since I was first involved with the SCoPE version in late 2014! We've done brainstorm sessions on Collaborate and tossed ideas back and forth on Skype and in multiple GoogleDocs. And we've made many changes, in response to participant suggestions (kudos and gripes) and SylviaC has done an amazing job of creating what I consider an attractive and useful Moodle environment. We've got a FLO Harvest Wiki that is just bursting at the seams with ideas for digital tools, suggestions for additional readings and videos, samples of learning objects created by participants (and FLO facilitators) and a developing collection of ideas for approaching the various mini-session topics. But we want to make it better and stronger and more valuable for learners everywhere.

So, I'm looking forward to what the day brings. Lots of great ideas swirling around this evolving community of practice. And that's an important item not to forget – how do we build a useful proflearning option for online facilitators? And then there's the idea of integrating outside experts into topic sessions in selected weeks. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sprinting out the door … more later!

 

. Since I was first involved with the SCoPE iteration of ISWo which morphed into Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) we've been talking about how to make the FLO experience and learning even better; we've talked about tightening up and rethinking the learning outcomes, reviewing the value of the FLO Rubric and badges, lightening up the readings and resources, rejigging the flow of mini-sessions,

Ss-S-SoTL…brightening up a gloomy Friday the 13th!

welcome to SoTL eventLooks like I was stumbling as I typed my title eh? Nope, I was thinking about the "scholars" I met at Simon Fraser University's downtown campus, who were part of a wide-ranging exploration of current inquiry and completed research at the Symposium for Scholarly Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Despite taking place on the dubious date of Friday the 13th, and ignoring the torrential rains the night before and the gloomy grey clouds massing over Vancouver's downtown, this year's Symposium was the first I've attended. The public gathering places were open and bright, the welcome was sincere and brief, the events were varied, and the food was well-presented, generous and delicious – thanks to the event organizers!

Although I found the plenary sessions somewhat interesting I wasn't inspired or excited as much of the content seemed to be hopeful rather than concrete and not really that new or insightful (at least based on what I've read about these topics over the past few years). I enjoyed the ability to choose sessions organized by research that was in progress or research that had been completed and to listen to stories from educators about their experiences, challenges and successes (Strand B).

I chose to participate in a session led by Marcella LaFever, University of the Fraser Valley on "Replacing Bloom with the Medicine Wheel".  Marcella's work is interesting, particularly in terms of her trying to support the introduction of spirituality into our current approach to teaching/learning (e.g of four domains:  physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual).  She shared a handout with a diagram and brief reading list and list of verbs (similar to Blooms Taxonomy) as she tries to define different elements of the Spiritual Domain – mindful/ness, value/d, connect/ed, empowe/red, self-actualize/d

I would also have liked to attend: 

  • Games in Class: A Case STudy of Gamification in an Undergraduate Communications Course – Jaigris Hodson & Rob Bajko, Royal Roads University
  • Integrating Metacognitive Curricular Interventions into the Undergraduate Curriculum – Peter Arthur, UBC Okanagan
  • Life's a Lot Like Jazz – Better When You Improvise – Sherrill Rutherford, VIU

During the Session2 sharing of experiences, I chose Julia Hengstler's Tinkering with an Online Post-secondary Course. Her stories about her efforts to improve the delivery of her course and her students' learning experiences was detailed and thorough. While I've gone through similar efforts to improve my teaching, her "tinkering" efforts were better structured, broader and longer and hopefully will eventually achieve the outcomes she is looking for.

I would also have liked to attend: 

  • Direct Instructions vs Productive Failure Best Practices for Interactive Inclass Activities – Sunita Chowrira & Karen Smith, UBC
  • Preparing Students for Self-Directed Learning – Gail Hammon & Alice Cassidy, UBC
  • Moving from a Traditional to an Inquiry-based Teacher Education Program – Teresa Farrell, VIU

 

I think my favourite part of the day (besides meeting interesting people and having great hallway discussions) was the Research Bites presentations. Although many of the researchers were unable to tell their story in the 3 minute time allocated, it did mean that I got to hear an overview of what was going on, without having to spend the whole day listening to lengthy explanations.

While I enjoyed the opportunity to "pick and choose" and move around between tables and enter into discussions with the researchers about their projects, I was disappointed in the actual room, which had such a high ceiling that it was often difficult to hear what was said by someone sitting on the other side of the table. Too bad. However, I have contact details so I'll follow up on some of the research projects I found most interesting.

Overall, a great day for me. I had the chance to meet some of my former students and colleagues face-to-face (I'd only known them as online entities before). Despite my enthusiasm for online learning and teaching, there is still something about sitting next to the person you've had great discussions and debates with – like meeting an old friend. I enjoyed the chance to engage in "big picture" issues and to learn more about some of the exciting avenues of inquiry that instructors around the Lower Mainland are pursuing.