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Mess in online education: How it is, how it should be

Amy Collier & Jen Ross. Plenary Session, Emerging Technologies for Online Learning. Dallas, 11 April 2014.


on 27 June 2014

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Transcript of Mess in online education: How it is, how it should be

Mess in online education:
How it is, how it should be

how it is
how it should be
mess in practice
Rhizomatic learning
Amy Collier & Jen Ross
"Easy drag-and-drop editing marks, voice comments and rubrics make grading faster"
"The design of our platform is based on sound pedagogical foundations that aim to help students learn the material quickly and effectively."
"the student knowledge profile clearly and quickly shows students (and their teachers) where the knowledge gaps are, and how to fill them."
Dylan Glyn, http://www.dylanglynn.com
doopnooper, http://doopnooper.deviantart.com/art/Yes-No-Maybe-370053596
"virtuous mess is mess that reflects or illuminates aspects of the social world as we really experience it... Bad mess is quite simply the pickle we can get into when we try to tidy up the former. Seeking to force the inherently messy into a respectable tidy form can result in something that distorts, hides or falsifies the actual social world. ...those who appreciate and do not try to distort mess as it actually exists are more likely to achieve actual, albeit wicked, clarity: to reveal the world in its lustrous, indeterminate and ambiguous splendour." (McArthur 2012, p.421)
As a teacher, I devise the curriculum for my students, but I have to accept that they will not learn exactly what I want them to learn. They are liable to select from my offerings, having a taste for learning one thing over another. But if I encourage students to pursue their own interests, it is my responsibility to make sure that they won't be punished for this in assessments. I do feel responsible for trying to understand what my students want, and for providing the curriculum that I think they need, but ultimately I have to trust students to meet their own educational needs. ...However, it takes time for students to construct knowledge for themselves. Material crammed for exams is quickly regurgitated and forgotten, but if ideas are more thoroughly digested then students can reconstruct material in a personally meaningful way, in learning that lasts. (Smith, 2008, p.717)
'1954... automatic fisherman' - James Vaughan
"Grade any open-response assessment.  Fast."
"Offload content delivery to jump-start the learning process"
"Imagine you could improve your logical thinking and math skills with no effort. Imagine you could train your brain everywhere: on the bus, at the beach, during work and during your breaks."
Like magic
your fish
is caught?
"Language—oral language—is embodied. It is not detached from us it is in us, changing us. To get to a place of embodiment I, and those with me in the language class, have had to make ourselves look and sound and even feel frustrated, stupid even humiliated... We have been struggling all the time with not just how to speak, but how to be heard, how to converse, how to be understood—how to listen and how to speak. We have been working painfully hard to learn to play a language, to body-forth conversation. It has involved humility even humiliation." (Phipps, 2007, p.10)
"I think it is possible to learn a language on your own via some tech-based platform, but I think it would take you a long, long time and you would need to be very disciplined." (Luis von Ahn, DuoLingo founder)
"An independent study found that Duolingo trumps university-level language learning." (DuoLingo web site)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:Old_College,_University_of_Edinburgh_courtyard_facade_detail.jpg
I have only taken the first module - and I am taking a year off to look after baby!... I was actually in the States during the orientation period, and I participated as much as I could I was undergoing medical treatment ...So, let me see... what happened next... it was kind of a blur then, as I had to rest for 2 weeks. (Selena Lamon)
I was preparing myself physically for a year before I decided to apply.
Interviewer: Preparing yourself? How do you mean?
Well, this study requires lots of time, so I had to figure out in my head how it would fit into my personal and bussiness life. Also I had to prepare myself that I'm going to take an obligation that is serious and I want to do it as best as I can. (Lorrie Saterfiel)
i arrived late and got most things wrong
that was mostly because I'd had a super intense summer, professionally and privately too, certain things went wrong and I was exhausted
I was supposed to study full-time but ended up doing just one course... half way through the course I decided not to continue
it was amazing how much support I got from the whole team
...anyway, i resumed in January
the arrival was easier in a way as I'd already rehearsed it. (Lilia Banton)
I was very engaged initially, but this episode threw me... I also decided not to do a module last spring. But that was due to needing to reorganize my business because with the recession, my business has really dropped off. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to focus on my business because [a parent] passed away... I am now doing a module but am still split as I need to focus on my business. So I guess at the moment, I am finding it hard to engage although the spirit is very willing. (Allie Ruther)

then I went to germany
first I had a lapse
I had visitors from india
at work and was with them day and evenings
I did what I had to but my blogs dried up a bit
I put placeholders in for th emissing weeks
Then I went to germany
to give training
a friend met me there for a few days break
but she broke her arm
and we got stuck there
for 2 weeks
whilst she was in hospital
post op
lucky I had a pc
so I could do the course work
and could focus more than at home
so I felt more connected
than if I was at home (Penelope Carrera)
Designing openings
how do we design opportunities for potential reconnection that students can build on when they need them?
How do we design places for students to branch off in their own directions & construct their agency around what they are learning?
" 'Just tell me the facts.'
'Just learn the facts.'
Both are statements of fear."
- Parker Palmer
The Courage to Teach, 2007

"Like all people, we perceive the version of reality that our culture communicates. Like others having or living in more than one culture, we get multiple, often opposing messages. The coming together of two self-consistent but habitually incomparable frames of reference causes un choque, a cultural collision."
- Gloria Anzaldua
The Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza
- from the 'manifesto for teaching online',
University of Edinburgh
Making and coding
'fire hero' - http://www.chrismarion.net/
The process was not without hiccups: notably, when some Scots decided to build a giant phallus and their Scandinavian counterparts constructed a temple to Satan.

Ultimately, however, the freedom to construct worlds with minimal teacher interference proved inspiring. The winners' centrepiece was a series of futuristic domes in which holograms would allow students to step into worlds past and present, from First World War trenches to an Amazonian rainforest. (Times Education Supplement, February 2014, http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6400535)
Scottish-Norwegian Minecraft project
8 teams, representing primaries, secondaries and further education colleges.
challenged to build their ideal learning environment in Minecraft.
how do we design maker-friendly classrooms?
bundled coconuts, by Jim (CC: BY NC ND)
fire jam - http://www.cnet.com/uk/pictures/happy-hackers-at-maker-faire-2011-photos/19/
If you can't open it, you don't own it - Owner's Manifesto
"What the teams came up with, the hours they put in and the learning that went on inside the worlds truly blew my mind" - David Renton, West College Scotland
"new creative tools should celebrate skilled, creative reuse and customization in order to empower the next generation of creative tinkering." (Rosner & Bean, 2009)
"We eschew the unexpected, messy, and slippery process through which our classes unfold in favor of clean solutions, well-designed lessons, and so-called 'best practices.' "
- Johnsen, Pacht, van Slick, Tsao, 2009
"make space for the unexpected, unusual and hitherto unexplored methods." - McArthur, 2010
fall in love
-grows from any starting point
-spread in various contexts
-any piece of the plant can start
a new plant
"The rhizome is, in a manner of speaking, a kind of network. It's just a very messy, unpredictable network that isn't bounded and grows and spreads in strange ways. As a model for knowledge, our computer idea of networks, all tidy dots connected to tidy lines, gives us a false sense of completeness."
- The Great Dave Cormier, 2011

How can you
make a mess
"I have experienced an existential breakthrough. I have been deeply changed by the connections and exchanges that took place during rhizo14, and not only with others, but also via others and back to my own self, allowing otherness to reverberate within my 'uniquely furnished room' and checking to see what possible chords would spring up. I owe it to this network/community/connections/people. I deconstructed my oppressions, and never before have I been able to see inside myself with such clarity. Not that it has given me any promises of certainty – much to the contrary. I had never cherished the unknown. I had always been afraid of not knowing the answers when the time came for me to show that I did. Never before had it been so pleasurable to learn, and to stretch my intellectual (and even artistic?) legs."
- Clarissa Bezerra, On Finding My Voice (Part 2)

a young Ross & Collier met at ET4Online in 2012
'what does mess mean to you?'
stories about MOOCs - symptom of or solution to education's problems?
more info at http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1545
Anzaldua, G., 1999. Borderlands - La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Aunt Lute Books.

Hepburn, H., 2014. Minecraft project opens up new worlds of creativity. Times Educational Supplement. Available at: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6400535.

Johnsen, H.L. et al., 2009. The Messy Teaching Conversation: Toward a Model of Collegial Reflection, Exchange, and Scholarship on Classroom Problems. Teaching English in the Two-Year College, 37(2), pp.119–136.

McArthur, J., 2012. Virtuous mess and wicked clarity: struggle in higher education research. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(3), pp.419–430.

Phipps, A., 2007. The sound of higher education: sensuous epistemologies and the mess of knowing. London Review of Education, 5(1), pp.1–13.

Rosner, D. & Bean, J., 2009. Learning from IKEA Hacking: I’M Not One to Decoupage a Tabletop and Call It a Day. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI ’09. New York, NY, USA: ACM, pp. 419–422. Available at: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1518701.1518768 [Accessed April 13, 2014].

Ross, J., Gallagher, M. and Macleod, H. (2013). Making distance visible: assembling nearness in an online distance learning programme. International Review of Research in Online and Distance Learning, 14/4. http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1545

Smith, H., 2008. Spoon-feeding: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the mess. Teaching in Higher Education, 13(6), pp.715–718.
Photo Credit: C x 2 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/63859127@N00/13457659375/) via Compfight with CC license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Photo Credit: chrissinerantzi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/36877316@N02/6551010343/) via Compfight. Cc license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
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