The Connected Teacher: Same goal, different words
Having listened to Professor Alec Couros discuss “The Connected Teacher” in the posted skype message assigned for this week, I admit I understood his enthusiasm, but I didn’t understand what he wished me to know sufficiently to reproduce the good effects he achieves in his classes. He discussed three elements:
Network for learning
The learning via the internet connection
The Summary of what was learned
To be fair to this project “A Domain of My Own” I am trying to understand how I could use his successes at my level of understanding, given my poor command of the language and literature (both singly composed (asynchronous) and threaded discussions of networked activity. It would appear to me that I might find a cognate process whose results of personal learning might be similar but whose language and perhaps path would be different (if indeed it would be different at all).
My first task to students might be:
1. Solve a problem that builds (goal that is not an end in itself-solitaire is not a goal). What do I mean? I’m trying to imagine structured learning where the results of one achievement provide the materials (intellectual, processual, or physical) to articulate another problem whose solution is predicated upon previous learning, but produces a different result.
I can imagine a student responding, without dissembling asking, “What is a problem?”
To this I might take the standard narrative approach–a problem is something that the protagonist lacks. Often in stories a protagonist leaves home because she lacks food, safety, or affection. Through travel she encounters other actors with whom she interacts and through these interactions she gains knowledge, or skills (even of communication). Through the quest or series of interactions she gains experience and this personal quality then yields the solution.
The solution is the “lack liquidated” in the classic hausmärchen after which the resolution then is often marriage.
Another way of seeing this is initial repose-action-repose-resolution.
However one describes the state of resolution, it is condition of greater understanding. In our learning environment this can also lead to a new quest for new skills, or knowledge achievable, in part, because of the previous quest(s).
But beyond the learning necessary to specific solutions, the protagonist, provided she wishes to understand rather than just satisfy the lack, gains an understanding of a matrix of solution (I believe I heard this term from Michael Spencer). This matrix of solution I take to be a generalized, but personal method of problem solving that may be applied to other lacks on different problems with different topography and complexity. As Dr. Couros remarks, it is not the hardware/software. These surely will change over a short amount of time. Rather it is the mechanism of learning, of communicating to others the needs instrumental to resolving the lack.
I don’t pretend to be profound. Any player of a musical instrument must at some level acquire the skills necessary to play in cooperation with others, new tunes, with new pulses, or tempoes. The matrix of solution could be called competency. No musician stops preparing prior to performance. The motions of tonality, flow, precision, timing and many other elements I wouldn’t understand are reviewed and made ready to solve the performance at hand.
Would this be student-centered learning? I don’t know. Certainly the actors whom the protagonist meet in approaching the solution would not be limited to the instructor. Much would be learned in the interaction with other seekers. Clearly the path would not be predestined. And certainly the outcome is larger that the lack liquidated, because it supposes the continued problem solution toward competency in a subject, which is not a destination but a confident replication of result.