SEAD: Describing Changing Curricula

This is the title of an Abstract for a white paper that Roy Williams, Simone Gumtau and I recently submitted to SEAD.

SEAD is a working group that is looking to report on and

address new opportunities or roadblocks to improve collaboration between science and engineering and arts and design. The report will also analyze existing reports issued internationally over the last ten years and develop a meta-analysis of these previous reports. http://seadnetwork.wordpress.com/about/

Here is a link to the Abstract

We now have until November 15th to submit our White Paper, which must include a summary section with suggested actions. The more specific the Suggested Actions the better:

a) Identify the STAKEHOLDER (people or organizations in a position to take an action, or who will benefit from the success of your work).

b) Describe briefly the roadblock or problem you have learned in your own work, and suggest actions that others can take to help overcome such problems.

c) Identify new important opportunities that you feel should be made a priority.’

Our thinking for this submission is influenced by two recent papers we have worked on and submitted for publication.

1. Williams, R., Mackness, J. & Gumtau, S. (2012) Footprints of Emergence. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

  • this has been accepted and hopefully will be published in the next edition of IRRODL

2.  Williams, R., Mackness, J. & Gumtau, S. (2012) Synaesthesia and Embodied Learning.

In the Footprints of Emergence paper we expand the ideas we developed in an earlier paper on  emergent learning Emergent Learning and Learning Ecologies in Web 2.0  , with a particular focus on developing a framework for designing curricula for emergent learning.

In the  Synaesthesia and Embodied Learning paper,  we explore how synaesthesic enactive perception can underpin innovative learning design.

Since writing and submitting these two papers we have begun to think more deeply about how they inform each other and the implications for enhancing creativity and innovation across the disciplines through considerations of emergent, prescriptive, synaesthesic and embodied learning in relation to curriculum design.

For further information see also Roy’s blog post of Friday 17th August – also with the title ‘Describing Changing Curricula’

6 thoughts on “SEAD: Describing Changing Curricula

  1. Scott Johnson September 27, 2012 / 5:02 pm

    This looks very interesting Jenny. Quick question – How do you allow people to allow themselves to go places they think (or have been told) they don’t belong? I don’t have a job description where I work so no one is sure where I can’t be.

  2. jennymackness September 27, 2012 / 5:55 pm

    Hi Scott – what a fascinating question. I’m not sure that I have fully understood you, but my immediate thinking is that the word ‘allow’ doesn’t quite fit with what we are doing, which is thinking about designing curricula for more or less emergent learning and how that might facilitate cross-disciplinary working between the arts and sciences.

    I interpret ‘allowing people to allow themselves to go places’ – whether or not they belong there – to be designing for autonomous learning which in turn could well lead to emergent learning, since the learning path is not prescribed.

    I would see a place that has barriers around it to the extent that some belong and some don’t as not fostering autonomous learning, because presumably there are rules to the belonging.

    Etienne Wenger writes about ‘social artists’ – people who can cross boundaries and move between one landscape of practice and another, enhancing the learning of both landscapes.

    It sounds to me that you are perceived of as someone who can cross boundaries – an autonomous social artist 🙂

  3. Scott Johnson September 27, 2012 / 7:40 pm

    Etienne Wenger also mentioned ‘brokers’ I think? Match makes in the social realm? In the small community of our college there are alliances and group identities that limit mobility. Our office (“Learning and Technology”) has run into the “teachers against online teaching” group many times They have their own logic system, a secret scowl and their special table in the cafeteria. It’s not that they oppose change or reject technology, it’s more they have an obligation to the practice of teaching to defend tested principals and not give in to the demands of traditional “enemies” upstairs in the Admin offices.

    I think in becoming a teacher (or any other professional designation) you take on almost unconscious habits of thought that can hold back change. Even when change is the most advantageous option for sustaining a profession members may judge it by old paths of thinking and automatically reject it.

    It’s valuable to take on identities or assumptions of self worth and membership in order to become a more complete practitioner. But these silent structures can chain a person to a limited area of activity.

    Needless to say I’m not entirely clear on this. Can we allow ourselves more open identities without losing credibility in our chosen field? Clearly there have to be boundaries of some sort to define activities or to build a curriculum that actually goes to a destination. Can the destination be expanded, redefined or maybe left with a few gates open to accommodate new interpretations of what being there means?

    This needs more thought.

  4. jennymackness September 28, 2012 / 5:00 pm

    Hi Scott – thanks for these interesting thoughts.

    In thinking about why teachers might be against online teachers, I always try and remember that I only got into it because I had a very real need to do so. I was responsible for running a distance learning programme, so clearly I needed to learn about teaching online, for my professional reputation. I think all teachers have to feel this need, because its a lot of additional work to begin with.

    The other thing is that I think teachers (and in fact everyone) has to feel that they own the change, for the change to work – if that makes sense. So it was no good to me if the IT Services people said to me ‘I had to do something’ if it didn’t suit my purposes, and similarly I can’t tell you how many times what I wanted to do for my online programme was, for one reason or another, blocked by IT Services. I learned to be quite subversive.

    And in terms of openness and open curricula and your question

    > Can the destination be expanded, redefined or maybe left with a few gates open to accommodate new interpretations of what being there means?

    Yes – I would hope so – but that might require a culture shift in some places.

    Jenny

  5. Scott Johnson September 28, 2012 / 7:44 pm

    Hi Jenny, great advice! I’m working towards a persuasive argument for moving online which is actually based on student’s responses to what I consider an authentic survey of what they want. Also, because we are a very small college there’s a good chance I can talk the the VPA or even the Prez into letting me develop a back channel that Admin can conveniently ignore for a few weeks. There are some other political paths to explore too. I haven’t used my time reading Le carre and Alan Furst poorly.

    Yes, we are in constant battle with IT. There’s been a recent reorganization in their department which created a crack in their wall we are working on. Because our department is called “Learning Design and Technologies” we seem to be singled out as potential rivals and due all grief they can give us. My take is IT people are as pig headed as we are and we both feed off the bad relationship to our own advantage. Simplicity and efficiency are overrated anyway.

    Our previous coordinator was in constant conflict with the instructors. She figured they were lazy, resistant to change and easily replaced by machines. The residual resentment towards us is a barrier but I don’t the damage is permanent. I think it’s a myth that teachers are unmovable, the nature of their job requires an adaptable attitude and I think you are right that buy-in is the right approach. This is about the relationship they have with their students. That relationship defines their “job” and is much stronger than their connection to their employer who is at best a weak signal from far away.

    Thanks for allowing me to think out loud here. I wonder if this is a variant of blogging where a person “posts” in the reply utility on someone’s blog that they particularly enjoy? A thought seeking an audience in order to manifest itself?

  6. jennymackness September 30, 2012 / 12:29 pm

    Hi Scott

    I completely agree with this:

    > I think it’s a myth that teachers are unmovable, the nature of their job requires an adaptable attitude and I think you are right that buy-in is the right approach. This is about the relationship they have with their students. That relationship defines their “job” and is much stronger than their connection to their employer who is at best a weak signal from far away.

    Thanks for sharing

    Jenny

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