Archive for education

Once upon an English adventure

Posted in EAP Augustana with tags , , , , on September 13, 2016 by onepercentyellow

It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 15 years ago that I first decided to move abroad to teach English as a second language.  Now, as I sit here in my English for Academic Purposes class at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta, I think back to those first classes and how much I have improved as an English teacher.

“Free talking!” Mr. Jung would say when I asked him what I was expected to teach my Korean students.

“What’s free talking?” I asked.

“You know. Free talking!” He said with even more excitement.

I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I decided I would ask the other teachers about these “free talking” classes.  I would learn that the school generally had very little in the way of curriculum and I would be expected to design the course any way I saw fit.  I would try out many terrible lessons, including Tongue Twister Tuesdays where we would recite a grouping of tongue twisters for 50 minutes every Tuesday, musical Fridays where my students were expected to sing along with me as I struggled with learning guitar, and games day where we would play Monopoly or Scrabble for the allotted time.  I would have a one-on-one class for 3 hours a day for 3 weeks in order to prepare a vice-president in LG for his upcoming move to Toronto.  We both fell asleep in class one day!

All this trial and error has refined my teaching style and ability.  I now spend time crafting assignments aimed at fulfilling specific learning objectives and I try to integrate multiple ways that students can engage with the English language.  I hope that my students in EAP 140 can read this post and consider themselves lucky that they are taking class from me now, and can be thankful for all those students who suffered for so long in my classes!




The Social Artist – Interactivity

Posted in eci831, MAIS with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2012 by onepercentyellow

Learning happens when the world bumps up against what you already know.  In our clumsy stumble through life we’re constantly colliding with new ideas in text, in music and video, in objects around us, and in other people.  The thrill of having your own notions of existence confirmed, and the conscious-raising experience of understanding a resistant view of the world is one of the great drives of education.  We want to understand our world no only for ourselves, but for each other.

In the educational world, it’s tempting to submit this interaction to a top-down structure that reinforces power relations found throughout society, but one of my favourite pedagogues, Paulo Freire, argues (with the help of Erich Fromm) that this type of interaction is a drive toward “necrophily”.

“The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things… He loves control, and in the act of controlling he kills life” (Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 77).

It is not enough to simply have interaction among the players in an educational enterprise.  We must encourage authenticity, presence, and a drive toward a dialogical method of teaching that will encourage a love of life through a profound curiosity and desire to interact with ourselves, one another, and our world.

The Social Artist – reflection

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , on October 25, 2012 by onepercentyellow

When I returned from teaching abroad to finish my undergraduate degree, I was not expecting to truly engage in my coursework.  I had planned to complete the necessary tasks to obtain my parchment and had written off any naive desire to engage in the big questions of life.  My first day in class at Augustana banished that thought as I suddenly had names and theories to analyze my experiences in other countries over the past 4 years.  I realize now that this was my first taste of reflection, and I was immediately hooked.

The process of engaging the world with a set of questions and theoretical tools in the hopes of coming to some kind of understanding of how this crazy train fits itself together is the joy of the human project.  It’s the motivation behind learning – we want life to be easier, more rewarding, more enriching, more fair, and if we can determine why it is not this way, perhaps we can unlock the mystery that would lead us to our own utopia.  If we are sensitive enough, we move from examining the ticking mess of the outside world to scrutinizing our own reactions and interactions with our existence.

This process of reflection is not always a given.  There are many ways we have learned to refrain from asking questions of those things that are ‘working’ – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – but there are cultural norms, systems of power, political agendas, and personal relationships that are not actually ‘functioning’ though they seem to be ‘working’ when analyzed with the untrained eye.  It is only through exercising our critical reflection skills that we may have a chance to understand our own KEY role in life and the greater world.  Suddenly our actions have meaning, our thoughts and ideas have influence, and we begin to consciously create the world we want to live in, rather than blindly reproducing the world we have been taught.

The Social Artist – What is liberal arts?

Posted in eci831, MAIS, Online with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by onepercentyellow

The question, “What is a liberal arts university?” is a little like asking someone to describe post-modernism. Often people know more what it feels like and looks like rather than exactly what it is. A description involves questions of the value and purpose of a post-secondary education, and, as such, becomes a rather self-revealing political statement, rather than a detached list of descriptors. Individuals are involved in the telling of liberal arts stories, and perhaps this passion is the most revealing of all.

In this second video of the Social Artist, we discuss the makings of a liberal arts university in general. For me, this video has been created alongside readings in the theory of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) for my MAIS 638 course with Dr. Carolyn Redl. As a part of CDA not only am I considering the responses to the question, “What is a liberal arts university?” but this new theoretical background has me pondering the context each person inhabits in the liberal arts system and how that has influenced their responses. What’s more, I am reflecting on how my role as editor is manipulating the recordings to speak back to the audience in an abridged, entertaining and engaging format. I find it fascinating that in many ways, my own voice is populated by a series of clips of the voices of my interview subjects.

I have also been contemplating my goals in creating these videos. I want the story I am portraying to encourage people to take up their own conversations on liberal arts and online learning. From this perspective, I wonder how the individuals interviewed view the responses of their colleagues. From the social artist perspective, I wonder how presenting an audience’s words back to them influences levels of interest, involvement and buy-in on a project.

These ponderings are simply questions I have come up with along the process of creating the videos. I hope to share more of my reflections on the creation of the videos and the OLI process in this space. In the meantime, enjoy the show!

reading in a rhizome

Posted in eci831 with tags , , , , on October 25, 2011 by onepercentyellow

When form meets content, the heavenly chorus meets in perfect harmony.

This week has been about making my edumecation work for me.  After posting my shout-out video to University of Mary-Washington and getting amazing response from those fine folks, I decided to tackle the ECI831 googledoc.  Personally, I prefer having the suggested readings available before our guest speakers arrive in class so that I can more actively engage in the presentation, so I decided to take the blank page as an open invitation to share my reading journey.  I decided to start with Dave Cormier’s 2008 post on Rhizomatic Learning.  As I began reading, my ears alerted me to the fact that the autodj was ruling the#ds106radio stream (likely through some kind of punk or a discussion on the ontology of screaming).  I realized that I had not done my duty in killing the autodj and decided to take a page from @DrGarcia‘s study manual and put out a broadcast monologuing the thoughts swirling in my head.

hey there #eci831, I’m going to read @cormier ‘s post on Rhizomatic learning on #ds106radio tune in if you’re game
October 19, 2011
Sure enough, that little signal tweaked another rhizome….
@davecormier really? everyone’s reading about your rhizomes. @onepercentyello publicly reading and reflecting /LIVE on #ds106radio rules!
October 19, 2011
@onepercentyello You were doing some talky talky about my paper today? What it rhizome stuff? is there a recording? I’m working on that now.
October 19, 2011
@davecormier bah!! no recording. thought of it after the fact. read out your paper on #ds106radio and commented when ideas struck me.
October 19, 2011
@onepercentyello I have a weird blog post that i’m turning into a better article (hopefully) how does that look?
October 19, 2011
@giuliaforsythe @onepercentyello it’s the choice of reading material that i find particularly noteworthy
October 19, 2011
@giuliaforsythe no. i meant it proved she was awesome.
October 19, 2011
@davecormier ah. yes. agreed. @onepercentyello is awesome. Have you seen her #eci831 reflection video for this week?
October 19, 2011
@davecormier @giuliaforsythe I think it proves that @courosa is awesome for #eci831, you’re awesome forthe article and #ds106radio justrules
October 19, 2011
psssttt….. #eci831 I’m talking to @davecormier before he comes to class next week #howcoolisthat?
October 19, 2011

(side note!! I just went into the HTML to figure out how to end the table and go back to full left justify! Geekin’ out moment… I’m so easily excited!)

From there, I read Dave’s other post on Community as Curriculum and one on the importance of having a philosophy of education, both at his suggestion, and shared that with the ECI831 googledoc in progress.  I made a bunch of reading notes and took the amazing @giuliaforsythe‘s suggestion of recording my reading/thinking out loud on #ds106radio.  She then pushed me that one step further and asked me to post the recording on my blog with the meta-reflection to go along with it.

This was my first time archiving a #ds106radio cast.  It was super easy (in nicecast it’s just window-archive) and there’s only about 15 minutes of my talking on there (only! jeez! How long will I ramble on!?).  From there I put out a couple songs by independent Alberta artists – Scott Cook, Jesse D and Jacquie B, and Wool on Wolves.

As for the meta-reflection, the process of writing this blog post and creating a storify (thanks to Tannis Emman for boldly going before me) has made me realize that this entire process has happened because of a rhizomatic learning environment.  I need not remind you that in other circumstances, I would have been shut up in my little room with my little books thinking of all this on my own – waiting for my weekly class for the chance to engage fully.  Instead I put out my first reading, get directed by the author to two other salient posts and get pulled along on his journey of rethinking the theory.  Dave even put up his most recent post on our googledoc – giving me yet another opportunity to connect and share in the thinking.  While the comments after mine show that I have missed the context of the “nomad” learner (and given me more to read up on), the process has pushed me to grow just that much more.  Another great link about the possible ways trees communicate, sent by the one and only @jimgroom gave me such a beautiful image to meditate on – those tall trees in the forest are all connected.  When you’re looking up to those who have grown before you, realize that they’ve got the resources, the stuff of life and learning, to share with you.  All you’ve got to do is get back to your roots.

Redefining reality – a journey of trust and sharing

Posted in eci831, travel with tags , , , on October 5, 2011 by onepercentyellow

This post has been very difficult to edit.  There are a couple reasons for this.  My lack of voice has complicated my final editing which would have included a voiceover or some connecting shots to bring out my ideas.  In addition, so many things have happened this week that it’s been nearly impossible to capture it all on film.

Some quick recaps:

  • I had the chance to watch Micheal Apple speak on Critical Pedagogy at the University of Regina.  A renowned scholar dealing with my deep belief in the need for a liberating education, Apple reminded me of my respect for the work of Paulo Freire.  It was also really cool when I realized that I had used Apple’s work in defense of Freire in a course last year!
  • Response to last week’s video made me think that it may be time to be up-front about my own educational philosophy.  (Interesting enough, others felt the need to put that out there!)  In addition to Freire’s work, I have great respect for George Siemens and Stephen Downes’ theory of connectivism.
  • The footage from my cross-country trip lent itself to a bit of digital scrapbooking.  I had a lot of fun on the way!
  • Great conversations with fellow masters and PhD students alongside global response to exploitative systems pushed me to question the ways we are all succeptible to prescribed realities.
  • Constant and consistent questions about my safety and sanity reinforced the entire circle.  To those who asked if I was afraid, I replied: “I tend to believe that the majority of people are good.  Besides, if the bad guys are going to get me, they can get me anywhere!  On the street, in my home, or anywhere else.  If we continue to live in fear, think of all the great things we miss out on!”

Connectivism in Elluminate with George Siemens

Posted in MAIS with tags , , , , on November 19, 2010 by onepercentyellow

I recently had the great fortune of bringing together a community of people I respect.  We came together for a presentation on connectivism and a guest lecture by George Siemens.  First of all, I would like to thank George for coming to my session, and demonstrating what integrity in learning looks like.

While I recognize it is only one aspect of connectivism, the consistency between the words and actions of a teacher is key to establishing trust in a learning connection.  As the tenets of connectivism make no judgment in themselves on any type of hierarchy of connections, we can see any new connection as something worthwhile that has the potential to create new or interesting knowledge.  In agreeing to come to the session, and for staying much longer than originally anticipated, George gave me hope that I had the potential to create valuable knowledge in interaction with his theory.  While I’m not sure I had much interesting to say in the session (I was awfully nervous), I hope that my reflections on the theory from the perspective of some of the people in the room will help me elucidate some of the strong attributes of and questions I have for connectivism.

If we can consider anything consisting of a set of connections to be a learning thing, and if this includes biological systems such as our brain patterns, then could we also consider ecosystems and our planet to be learning things?  We certainly establish the first patterns in our pre-reflective mind by interacting with the forces of nature.  As we get older we begin to take for granted the physical nature of our being and begin to engage in the constructed reality around us, but as environmental educators and stewards remind us, the natural world is an entity with which it is important to connect.  The knowledge we can create with the natural world can be astoundingly beautiful and have dramatic effects on our systems of meaning and our health.

In addition, I see connectivism as a view of learning that could be used in community service-learning (CSL) models.  The image of connection between theories (shifting application of thought) and experience (shifting instance of being), is also at the root of CSL.  The deepening of a student’s relationship with a professor, theory or an organization that becomes possible when the connection between entities is considered an important aspect of knowledge, has the potential to fundamentally affect change in all entities.

Of course, as in all education, I must question where the power lays in this system.  In the online world it seems to hinge on the status as an early adopter, and by the amount that an individual contributes to a community.  In the analogue world, a relationship with a professor would seem to follow the same rules.  With the seemingly a-ethical stance of the theory, I wonder where grounding principals come from.  Connections are where knowledge is created, so any connection has merit.  It is the creation of knowledge that lends merit to the existence of connections.  What is the point of creating knowledge?  Is this a fundamental human need?  Or is the fundamental need to create connections and knowledge comes about as a fine side-effect?  I suppose I wonder what the underlying motivation is within the theory, as I am a bit skeptical of knowledge for knowledge sake.

Finally, the economics of connectivism continue to perplex me.  While there is much sharing and liberation of knowledge happening in the online world, the gift economy must be more sustainable to challenge our present economic model and the economy of privacy complicates our view of what comprises capital.  In the meantime I wonder how George encourages himself to make time to connect personally with small groups of people.  I hope that he enjoyed the session.  I certainly gained a lot in hosting it.

The elluminate recording will be available for about 2 weeks before my temporary account expires.  I hope you have a chance to check it out.  George begins his discussion at about 6 minutes in.

Elluminate Recording