Order in the classroom, moral questions in #rhizo15

orderThis is not just a picture of a group of students. This is a group of students in order of best performer next to second best performer. The best performer is on the left, the “drop-out” is on the right.
Grades (A, B etc.  and ciphers (67 out of 100  or 6.7 out of 10)  are the expression of the order in a group of students.

Is this counting for the benefit of our students? Is the value of the work of teachers and students  in the fun, the use of it for the student? Or is that value is counted in numerical output. Joris Luyendijk http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/joris-luyendijk-banking-blog “Common people, in schools, hospitals, tell me the morals of these bankers are also predominant in our institution”.

What use is it if a students knows she is the 45th best student of her year? What does that mean for her life?

About what schools are for? A safe income for teachers? A source of money or influence for the institution and the Board of Regents? What is the most important goal of a university or school? Is it to build a strong labor force? a strong nation? a healthy and prosperous people?

What if schools did try to discover possibilities and potency in students? (count your blessings?)

What if schools tried to develop these possibilities in stead of working with curricula and standard tests?

What if more teachers did not join the rat-race for more money and more whatshallwecallit? But as the process went on, the more I saw the negatives of giving up my freedom, the ability to work at home (or coffee shops or wherever) while wearing jeans and t-shirt, the flexibility of not having to be in an office 40 hours a week, my summers. I started to realize I was going to end up doing a whole lot less scholarship and probably no teaching and instead I was going to go to a lot of meetings.

Count learning, What counting? and Which learning? #rhizo15

rasaay 2012I am a bass clarinetist. Every day I do learn, train, try and rehearse. And when the band plays, or the clarinet quartet is playing people, listeners, colleagues, will listen and comment. This was beautiful. That was not correct. That needs improvement. This evaluation is not counting, but we need it for improvement. Counting is important in most music, not in all! However, counting errors and mistakes is not a pedagogical smart habit.

Is learning music same kind of learning as high school and university learning?

Playing in an ensemble is more complicated than playing solo. Playing together with other musicians is challenge. New skills must be learned. More social skills, more (self-) confidence,  more stress management. A lot more about these important extra and important learnings or lessons (countable words!) I found in Symbolic Measure of Lisa M Lane. (Via OU Digital Tools. Laura Gibbs)

Picture Raasay Bass Clarinet Course

Talking about art, some dimensions and keywords.

duimenWhat aspects of art could we use in giving feedback? In education teachers do use these words when assessing art work of students.  Talita Groenendijk et all. did a study and collected these (and other) aspects.

Talking about Originality  and creativity we could use some of these words:
Creativity; divergent thinking; flexible thinking; flexibility; identification of distant associations; to what extent are ideas original, inventive, ingenious, non-standard in concept and form; inventiveness; originality; taking risks; playfulness; implementation; fluency; fluency of ideas; preference for novelty.

We could write a comment like
In your photo I see the elements A, B and C. I see a playful and associative use of these elements in your photo.

 Roy Williams postete vor kurzem auf Twitter, dass es für die erfolgreiche Etablierung einer Online-Gruppe “comfort, fun, trust, engagement” braucht. In online feedback comfort, fun, trust, engagement  are very important for online learning. Make your comments fun and comfortable.

Talking about the Picture:
Composition; contour fusion; detail; aesthetic organization; use of composition; how effective is the use of distance, nearby shapes and overlap?; The unity of the  composition, the manner in which the main part is placed ?;  color, shape and composition; lines; use of space ; organization (overall composition); flat or spatial representation; realistic placement of elements; representation; atmosphere;  use of details ; relations that correspond with reality; differentiation in shapes.

We could write: I see a  composition of the elements X, Y, and B and C that has a unity in color and a variety in shapes.

Concept / idea 
combining concepts and rearrange parts; complexity of visual or conceptual ideas; clear intention; How suitable are the elements for the expressed ideas? do the elements express the intended meaning?; communication of personal ideas, intentions, experiences, information and opinions in visual and other forms; application of abstract relationships to generate a new concept; imagination; vision; visibility of intent.

I see a rich variety of colors. But I did not link your title and the content of the photo.

Remaining concepts
awareness of  missing parts; elegant solution; impact of the product; inspiration; knowledge and understanding; multiple intelligence skills; productivity; clean and tidy; sensitivity; strategies and skills; synthesis; ability to transform things; ability to abstract and to go to parts of the whole; preference for cognitive complexity

source: http://www.lkca.nl/kennisdossiers/beoordelen/reviewstudie-assessment-in-kunsteducatie (Talita Groenendijk & Folkert Haanstra)  (my translation)


Feedback for improvement. About feedback or critique on art.

water lily

About feedback or critique on art.
The artists of the DS106 dailycreate do add comments (on Flickr) to art of fellow dailycreate’ers. Some of the comments are:

  • “nicely done”
  • “very nice comp and detail.”
  • “I love it”

This kind of comment is nice, but something more constructive is missing.
The DS106 Shrink wrote about feedback on art work. She starts a project for better feedback on DS106 dailycreate and other art.
Rules for constructive way of feedback or comments: feedback [pdf]:

  • 1. If you can’t think of a constructive purpose for giving feedback, don’t give it at all.
  • 2. Focus on description rather than judgement.
  • 3. Focus on observation rather than inference.

You are not a teacher, nor the angry art critique from a magazine, so be kind. Negative comments are for trolls. “I love it”, or “interesting” is kind, but not constructive.
The constructive power of just writing down what you see is great. Description may seem foolish, but it is a powerful tool to improve your skills.  And the artist involved will be grateful, because you gave time and attention to the work and you did respect the work as it is.

Responsability of the educator?


Maybe as an educator I am responsible too for keeping the students safe in their journey? (thanks Mariana Funes) Or if I am a student I am responsible too for keeping my fellow students safe in their journey?

“…Universities have the responsibility to foster in faculty, staff and students a sense of social responsibility and a commitment to the social good, which, we believe, is central to the success of a democratic and just society. (Talloires Declaration) … ”

In what degree as an (online) educator am I responsible for the journey of students? What does ‘as best as one can’  mean for online teaching? In (most online) teaching the teacher is not omnipresent, so do not expect the teacher to be responsible for learning outcomes. In schools students are (most of time) not expected to be responsible for the learning outcomes of fellow students. Should we change that?

In Teaching Today (Geoff Petty, 3th ed.  Nelson Thornes Ltd UK) p. 481  ” .. Never mind the teaching, never mind the system, never mind the college, it’s the learner[S] and the learning that counts! …”  [S] added by me.


Critique, feedback and comments that work


We cannot know what feedback and which comments make the student work in the right direction.
But experience learns (but she is not infallible) positive feedback often is better than no critique or negative remarks.
Here is a cultural difference in giving positive comments. Some people do use strong words in their positive remarks. (love it, and great, amazing) We like that very much. Some people are less exaltic. We need to know who says what to know this.
Some feedback does show much attention and interest for the work “The leaves and berries make for a nice composition, with great colours.”

It is difficult to give positive comments and make someone’s work of art better.
“this would be still better if you did that..” That takes courage. (Mvdfunes and johnjohnston on ds106radio 12oct2014, I do not know an archive of that, do you know that archive?)

I like the idea of remixing as a way of critique. One could just remix her art, and give  critique totally non-verbally. Anna Cow did some remixing  to try this idea. She did remix Sandy Browns tds1002 letterhead  into a letterhead of her own. Critique and feedback are closely connected to trust. 

Relationship and communication, trust, courtesy, connectivity,

vierseitenmodellOne of the four sides of the square does mention Relationship. Trust in the online environment is a complex issue. It should not be taken lightly.
The text about the stag as mentioned in Jenny’s blog is found in http://mixtmodeblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/facilitating-groups-online-understanding-personalities/
About courtesy in online communication, cultural differences do cause misunderstanding and uneasiness. Like the preferred distance between two talking humans is different in different subcultures and cultures. There is no universal agreement about Norms in online communication.
Some humans are online and they want to talk about facts and opinions without care about relations. Factual information is the only thing that matters to these humans.

Online community has to be more than shouting out facts or opinions to the internet.

I did add the category “connectedcourses” to this post, to be able to share the blog to that course. It is not written for that course, but connected to its theme.

The art of online teaching and communication

artteachinglive1I like to tie together teaching and art. I like to speak of The art of teaching because an art has no absolute rules. Art is always changing.
To think about the language in online teaching we must remember teaching is an art.
No rules for the right use of language in teaching, because:
Students are from different cultures and teachers are from different cultural origins. Language style and language register are different between students and between teachers.
So no universal rules for language and communication in online courses.

Humor, jokes and the unexpected could help to make a course attractive. Layout and pictures, sounds could help too.

You need to know your audience.
Ask for feedback.
Do reflect on your teaching.

And remember, the contact is the connection from student to the course and from teacher to the course (and to each other). For contact and connection in a course two parties are required.

image: Marcia Beckett

The use of language in online teaching

lichaamstaalIn therapy language is very important. .
BANDLER, RICHARD & GRINDER, JOHN; SATIR, VIRGINIA & BATESON, GREGORY etc.  The Structure Of Magic I: A Book About Language And Therapy..Is an example of this connection.

In my opinion language in online courses needs a lot of thinking.

In online teaching many aspects of communication are lost. Most non-verbal communication is not possible. Even a teacher talking on video is not a quality replacement for F2F communication.
The teacher cannot watch the students, cannot see body language of students. Students cannot see each other and no teacher.

In my opinion this lack of important aspects of communication has to be taken care of. Online teaching needs careful communication.
We have to think and experiment about our language in online teaching. How could we use language to improve connections in online teaching?

Do we need to use words like: we, I or you, when we write texts for online courses?
Do we use passive or active verbal form or passive voice?

Pluralism Monism

scientificpluralismTzvetan Todorov  writes that the  most important democratic value is pluralism. Monistic societies and governments as are communism and national socialism are not democratic.  In education we should give pluralism an important place.

Maha Bali   begins her blogpost with the students need for different ways of teaching, for variety in structure of courses, and adapting to students preferences and needs.
But she the most valuable text of Maha is about cultural pluralism and respect. In Maha Bali’s blog about education she says:  But it’s in allowing the diverse voices within us to have a space (even if it’s an English-speaking space because it’s the only language we have in common) and voice, that alone helps to enrich the online space with the diversity that’s in it. Pluralism is a ways to foster learning and creativity and innovation.

Pluralism in education is a movement  that does not ask for teaching to the test and standard testing. It is about learning to live with differences in methods of teaching, about democracy and about pluralism as a key to research and learning.
Proposed Changes in Education (this is in a wiki about citizenship & diversity)

  • from formal to informal
  • from exclusive to inclusive
  • from restrictive to experiential
  • from instructionist to constructivist
  • promotion of knowledge building, lifelong learning
  • promotion of inter-generational knowledge exchange

I am not writing about religious pluralism. In the USA pluralism also is used to talk about racial matters. Both are important issues.