Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MLP and LwDT Workshops

Reading Campfires in Cyberspace has got me thinking about our new Modern Learning Practices in relation to our LwDT PLD contract. We have an opportunity to create a new way of delivering PLD to schools. On reflection of the article below it has made me think we should be looking at modelling MLP in all our workshop sessions, TOD and Leadership forums. The idea of campfires, waterholes and caves needs to be factored into the learning, whether this is during or after the “session”. A campfire obviously is often catered for in the expert delivery model but what about opportunities for watering hole interactions and quiet, reflective cave experiences. How do you set up a watering hole or cave experience in the setting of a staff room or Hyde House? The cave experience may in fact occur in the car on the drive home or at some quiet reflection time in the learners life. With a bit of thinking we could set up exciting learning opportunities that will model and enhance learning. What are your thoughts?

Excerpt from Campfires in Cyberspace:Primordial Metaphors for Learning in the 21st Century David D. Thornburg, Ph.D.

There was a mathematics conference. A thousand or so school teachers gathered for a weekend at the beautiful location on the Pacific coast to learn more about the teaching of mathematics. Numerous presenters shared their insights through formal, scheduled, presentations. Exhibitors had their wares on display in a separate hall. Meals were held in a huge dining room, and lodging was on-site so people with common interests can share their ideas into the early hours of the morning. A visitor to this conference would see, at any given time, examples of all four learning environments. Some attendees sat in conference rooms listening to experts sharing their insights. The glow of the campfire is replaced by that of the overhead or computer projector, but the metaphor of the shaman or troubadour remained intact.Outside these conference rooms, other participants gathered at the exhibit hall, shuttle bus stops, main lodge, or other gathering places where they shared ideas with each other. These interactions ranged from choosing an off-campus restaurant for a special dinner, to sharing new strategies for introducing calculus to children in middle school. In the absence of a clearly defined watering hole, gathering spots are chosen by convenience. As in the film, Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.” The exhibit hall, Asilomar lodge and dining hall are probably the closest this conference came to providing metaphorical watering holes. In addition to the two settings in which people are grouped together, the conference visitor would also see people walking by themselves along the trails through the dunes to the ocean shore. Individuals might sit for hours looking at the water, exploring the trees on the grounds, or just engaged in quiet thought. This “cave time” is facilitated by the nature of the Asilomar site. In fact, the ability of this one site to support all three of these learning environments probably accounts for its great popularity as a conference center, even if these multiple aspects of the facility are never overtly addressed. And, finally, participants might gather in informal groups to try ideas out to be sure they truly understood them before the conference was over.

 Compared to

 A major invitational conference on educational technology in Washington, DC had brought an audience of about 600 highly regarded experts together for an intensive two days of presentations. The presentations were set up back to back, with no breaks until lunchtime, and then again after lunch with no breaks until dinnertime.The presentations were (generally) excellent. For example, Arthur C. Clarke held us spellbound with his visions of the future during a live two-way remote video conference from Sri Lanka. Even so, by lunchtime on the first day, there was a lot of grumbling from the attendees. They had been exposed to some intense campfires with no access to watering holes or caves. The conference was so tightly scheduled that several people complained of “overload.” On the one hand, people were free to walk out of sessions they didn’t like, but the presentations were of such high caliber (or the presenters were so well known) that most people were reluctant to walk out. Even so, by the second day, the audience had started to vote with its feet, building in breaks where none existed.This experience brought home to me the importance of scheduling in opportunities for all four learning experiences, and showed the disaster that awaits those who neglect the need for balance.