Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ako Aotearoa Academy 'talking teaching' conference -DAY 2

Professor Stephen Billett from Griffith University opens the second day with his keynote on ‘integrating and augmenting higher education students’ workplace experiences’. Not possible to separate cognition and experience / practice. Began with rationale for the topic. Discussed kinds of educational goals through WIL; curriculum pedagogy and personal practices shaping WIL; and how work experiences might be augmented. All draws from 3 recent projects carried out across 20 Australian universities. Primary role of tertiary education is to prepare graduates for occupations, and employers expect graduates to be job ready. Sets up difficult educational goals due to complexity and variety of work. To learn for occupations require acquiring canonical occupational knowledge; concepts (know), procedural (do), and dispositions (values); situational manifestations; adaptability of principles etc. Covered the dualities of learning – what the social world affords ad how individuals engage. Inter-dependent learning is required – not independent learning. Integration of experiences associated with learning is personal fact. Stressed importance of learner agency. Role of mimetic learning and critique of zone of proximal / potential development. Summarised studies. First to develop agentic professionals through practice-based pedagogies (2008); curriculum and pegagogic bases for effectively integrating practice-based experiences (2009-2019); and augmenting students’ learning through post-practicum educational processes (current). Detailed variety of approaches evaluated to secure post-practicum outcomes – feedback, learning circles, debriefs etc. Survey of students to find out what they required – preferences were to assist to gauge and further develop their occupational readiness to secure employment; led, facilitated or guided by teachers or experts; low value on peer assistance and feedback; aligned with purposes and preferred post-practicum processes; small group activities which are guided by teachers / tutors etc. Critiqued data, as students’ perspectives counter to current thinking on learner support.

Dr. Karyn Paringatai, Megan Potiki and Professor Jacinta Ruru then present the second keynote on ‘Poutama Ara Rau: He waka eke noa’. One of 17 research themes at University of Otago – project has website. Karyn opened with rationale and background. Goal is to find out how Maori knowledge and pedagogies can transform curriculum and teaching across many disciplines. Jacinta provided an overview of the project approaches. An administrator and a series of summer projects carried out by under and post-graduate students to inform. Plus a host of workshops, guest lectures, seminars etc. to enhance collaboration across South Island. Check out language learning app – Aki / Aki Hauora. Jacinta detailed Te Ihaka, building Maori leaders in law. Megan shared the experiences on the languages programmes. Described vertical integration between all 3 years of degree and the support structures provided if year 1 students become well enculturated as y1 moves into full immersion Maori language very early. Detailed Kainga Waewae vertically integrated assignment (25%) requiring students to create a resource ‘know your own backyard’. Peer evaluation and holistic marking used of communication and facilitation are not usually assessed in language courses.

After morning tea, parallel sessions convene.

I attend the session with Associate Professor Clinton Golding from Higher Education Development Centre at Otago University on ‘educating for thinking: how can we teach and assess thinking?’ Important to build a community – used an interactive activity to begin the session. Recognised need to foster specific disciplinary thinking skills. Covered the challenges of teaching and assessing thinking as thinking is invisble and internal, complex and abstract and tacit. Recommended ‘making thinking visible approach’. First identity –what thinking do you want from your students? How do you do that thinking? What are the tasks to which your apply the thinking? What do you say and do and ask as you engage in this thinking? Apply to thinking routines for students (reflection). Ask students regularly and frequently say and ask so they practise and internalise this thinking? Simplify the thinking to repeatable routines. (what do you mean by…? Why do I think…? What is a example of…? Provided examples for types of learning (clarification, elaboration, justification, alternative) and thinking phrases or prompt thinking.  Declarative knowledge is one step towards moving towards the tacit. Scaffolds placed at the beginning build the frameworks for developing non-declarative / tacit knowledge required for sophisticated creativity and problem solving. In summary, identity thinking behaviours, enculturate students and assess. Check clintongolding.com

Stay in the same room to be in the presentation by Dr. Arlene McDowell and Dr. Megan Anakin from School of Pharmacy, Otago University on ‘introducing an active learning approach using IDEA (Inquiry – Design – Explore – Answer) experiments’. Reported on applying Dr. Chris Thompson’s (Monash) work in her own teaching and evaluation over 2 years to improve the process. Provided rationale and process. Watch pre-lab video, complete pre-lab quiz, collaborative discussion, experiment design, perform experiment and report results. Reported ‘tweaks’ to the process to add challenge for year 3 students. Provided examples of how lab converted – lab book, process, need to design the experiment and report results. Shared student evaluations and study to establish if the approach actually improved student learning. Found students appreciated the new approach; had greater effect on students’ knowledge of purpose and process.

Next session is with Dr. Rena Heap on ‘shifting practice through professional learning conversation and communities. Study from a University of Auckland initiative to have one person in each faculty conduct a study on learning. This year’s theme on ‘engaging with elearning’. Rationale for Rena who is in teacher education, to prepare student teachers for digital fluency required in today’s and future classrooms. Need to shift from transmission to modelling approach. Could digital technology be used to help students engage in the type of learning required for the future. Detailed process of forming scholarship of digital teaching and learning circles to support teacher educators. Detailed how to engage staff – email, topics suggested, doodle poll, excel spreadsheet and options selected. Shared models – Salmon’s Carpe Diem – scaffolding model – access and motivation, online socialisation, information exchange, knowledge construction and analysis. Each of the five groups maintained a google plus site. To support the process, drew on Wengers Communities of practice and Cochran’s critical factors for success.

After lunch, session with Nicola Beatsonfrom University of Otago with ‘transformational tools and techniques’. Reporting on a project that has just begun. Summarised background – Universities generally have access to a range of technological transformational techniques. However, uptake is low. Used University of South Australia as example of forward looking institution with a technology learning strategy. So set up project with UniSA, Monash and several at Otago to find out why the barriers are to the uptake of tools and techniques at each of these places. Framed by transformational teaching and social constructivist theory. Approaches / techniques include active, student-centred collaborative with experiential and problem based learning. Study asks academics if they had heard of the tools / techniques, level of frequency of use and their level of comfort. So far, seems to be driven by individuals as no relationships across age, gender, subject and rank (professor, tutor, etc.) Themes include ‘no faith in efficacy’; tried it once but…; own awareness of need or no wanting to change; time; others not using; etc.

Followed by James Oldfield who looks after digital technologies for learning from UNITEC on ‘enhancing teaching through virtual and augmented reality’. Important to match pedagogy to use of VR or AR. They are tools and in education, important to also look into cost effectiveness. Provided example of AR in the trades, overlay of visuals to assist with identification of machinery parts. Use AR or QR codes to assist students to identify authentic examples in their own context. Provided an example for AR (using AURASMA – free app) as used to support student use of technology at Unitec – triggered via QR code on a physical surface – brochure, sign etc. VR requires more effort and is more expensive. However, an immersive learning environment is created. Showed an example of how to help tutors orientate into new teaching spaces. Showed the virtual workplace created by the carpentry section as part of the eassessment project. Detailed the pedagogical approaches. The demonstrated how VR images are caught for use in VR resources using a 360’ camera on a selfie stick. Then demoed a mixed/merged reality (MR) – blends real and virtual worlds in ways though which the physical and the digital can interact’.

Final keynote with Professor Welby Ings, from Auckland University of Technology on ‘the post-heroic teacher: leadership and influence in the age of anxiety’. Advocates the continuance of common sense and optimism in our work as teachers. Perhaps having influence is more important than leadership? Distilled, in his usual way, some gems of thoughts, garnered from his life experiences. Provided us with a few probing questions to encourage us to think about concepts of ‘leadership’. Argued for the need to look at leadership as not ‘heroic’. Change cannot occur if we make enemies with the people who are best able to support change. Nor can force or protest or disruption cause change. Yet, society perceives leaders as singular, visionary, problem solve, fearless, all knowing etc. When we teach, we influence the world around us  - we grow the intellectual capacity of the society we live in. Brought in stories to support themes of the ‘dangers of being admired’, the threats of ego, the contribution of reform from ‘wherever you stand’ and  the need for tenacity and disobedience. The person at the back is the leader, supporting the vanguard. Introduced the concept of the wounded hierarchy – whereby organisational practices block innovation. Features include micro management, risk aversion, low trust, reporting requirements / assessment criteria etc. Distributed leadership possible but not common in the mainstream. So how do ‘disobedient teachers’ keep going? Post- heroic leadership understand there is more than more variable, work with more than one group of people with different perspectives. Need to be able to provide empowerment. So, care for thinkers like you, refuse to relinquish agency (cynicism is the death of hope), use the power of the viral (rhetoric is never as powerful as a prototype) and en theos (passion, hope, agency). Kia Kaha!

Welby provides us with a fitting conclusion to a busy and enriching day.

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