Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

It’s been a tough one, boys and girls. I’m not gonna lie. I have most certainly run out of “give-a-fucks” here for my last semester at CSC. Soon, I’ll officially be a college-educated fool. I’ve done a lot of typing over the semester. Blogs, tweets, papers, comments, etc. etc. I suppose I should feel somewhat grateful since I type about eight hundred million miles faster than I can hand write anything. That being said, as part of our DigiLit final, we were asked to go back through our blogs and comments and analyze them. Find some commonalities, some changes, some surprises, etc.

So, for the final time, let’s get this freakshow on the road.

Marc Palm Photo CC-by Marc Palm, tangentially relevant

Repeat Offenses

A lot, and I mean, a lot of my blog posts this semester tackled problems I found in my own and in others’ education. I’m definitely not a proponent of traditional “sit down and shut up” classroom etiquette. We need to shake things up, identify alternative strategies, and figure out how to incorporate them into classrooms. The problem here is the immense amounts of bullshit teachers have to deal with. Curricula being designed for them, not by them, as well as stuffy administration or government mandates requiring they continue to recycle the same busted-ass methods are doing no one any favors. Oh, that’s another common thread: I despise closed-mindedness, tradition for tradition’s sake, and pretty much anything remotely resembling an authority figure imposing its will over others. I’m so edgy (this is sarcasm).

Another thread that joins a lot of my posts and comments together is a contrarian viewpoint. Call me a hipster, call me a douche, whatever, but in most facets of our education this semester, I did my best to look from all angles, and not just take everything at face value. Sure, I can read 15 articles and listen to 12 TEDTalks about how this new innovative idea is so great and will change the world, but I don’t need a pat on the back, and I don’t need idealism. I need results. I need proof. If you want me to believe that your idea is fullproof, I’m going to try to find the holes that can be poked in it and see how you plug them. I’m not trying to be edgy or be “that guy,” I’m really just trying to cover all bases here. A great idea is great.. in theory. Can it hold up to practice? Can it hold up to peer review? These details do matter. Ideas are good. Acting on them is better.

Photo CC-by Sean MacEntee

Sean MacEntee

Takeaway Points

A key point that a few of my blogs mentioned that I feel is worth mentioning again is that we need to abandon the fetishizing of ideas and of innovation. People walk away from TEDTalks feeling good and optimistic for the future, mostly because somebody else has a good idea. What TEDTalks have you actually put into practice? Good for them, they’ve reached a successful point in a career and are coming to share their results with us. What does that do for us if you don’t act on it? If you don’t incorporate it into your own life in some way more than a Facebook share and a “oh hey this was really cool”? I’m a hypocrite, because I think talk is cheap. Words are my favored medium, and still, I get tired of them from time to time. I get tired of soapboxes and causes. I want something I can see – not yet another person like me, rambling on but doing little in practice to implement any differences.

Hypocrisy aside, that’s one of my favorite things about these weekly blogging exercises. I’ve got a week’s worth of Tweets, articles, blog posts, and so much more bubbling in my brain, and I’ve gotta let it out in some manner. I also, oddly enough, love attention. My blog is my soapbox. I can write about social injustice and feel less like a shit person when I fail to notice instances of it in entertainment because, hey, I wrote about it! It’s like the whole “being an asshole concept,” where people believe that by somehow prefacing being a dick by “Hey, I’m kind of a dick,” that makes whatever offensive thing said okay. I feel like writing is one of the few things I can feasibly do to make a difference. I can at least raise awareness about causes. That’s something, right? I like to pretend so. It makes me feel better about myself.

Shawn Carpenter

Photo CC-by Sean Carpenter

Ch-ch-ch-changes

One thing I noticed as the year went on, in my blog posts, my bravado and usual “funny sarcastic guy” schtick began to fall in favor of unfiltered cynicism or flat out boredom. I won’t lie, certain blog posts this semester just did not have my attention. They were definitely cranked out for the sake of an assignment. As we went, I became more and more aware of my own flaws, more conscious about the things I didn’t like about myself or my work, and rather than try to cover them up with a fascade of humor, instead decided to let the truth be the truth. I’m thankful for my education here. I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve seen. Still, I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the day. Do teens really need to commit 4 years of their life and thousands of dollars of money they don’t have for what is essentially a repeat of a high school education? The government sure wants them to think so.

I think the gradual change in demeanor is equal parts the inevitable exhaustion that accumulates for students and teachers alike over the semester, as well as the pre-graduation jitters. I’m going to have a Bachelor’s Degree. I’m going to be expected to be a functioning adult. I’m already being harangued about grad schools. I don’t want to go to grad school, goddammit. At least not yet. I’ve been in academia for a good 16 years straight. I’m calling a time out. I’m done for now. I’m going to experience life a little, be it mundane or absolute chaos. Besides, I have no desire for a higher degree besides “it would make me feel good about myself.” I don’t want to teach, okay? Stop fucking asking. Maybe I’ll give substitute teaching a try, but for now, it’s not in the books.

I know a lot of people whose senioritis kicks in and gets them excited about graduating. I don’t think I could be more lethargic. I took my last hand-written final this morning, potentially ever. What was my first thought after?

“Shit, I need a nap.”

emdot Photo CC-by emdot

Truth Time

In all honesty, my growing cynicism and lethargy aside, I’ve loved this class. I’ve loved (almost all) of my blog posts. This class has forced me to look a lot of things I’ve never considered, and consider a lot of viewpoints I’d never known about. I actually learned something in an online class. Holy crap.

Despite the fact that for the last 8 weeks solid I did the dumb thing and waited until 10 Sunday night to do a week’s worth of homework, I always did my best. I always tried to put some substance in my work, never opting for lame “I agree!” replies or bare-bones blog posts. That’s something I’m proud of. To my classmates: it’s been fun. New perspectives, and a lot of new faces. To Dr. Ellington, thank you for showing me that the ideas regarding innovation and shaking up the classroom aren’t all just blown smoke. To Fish, you’re awesome, and I love you.

Continuing the theme of truth, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Daily Creates to catch up on.

Contendo

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“Unlearning.” That word by itself kinda hurts my brain. Isn’t that the opposite of what we want? Don’t we want to grow? Isn’t the way to grow to expand, to intake, to gain? Well, yeah, of course, buuuuuut…

A lot of people, educators and learners alike, live by the doctrine of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

That’s a problem.

Bindaas Madhavi Photo CC-by Bindaas Madhavi

“Unlearning”

Will Richardson’s article about “unlearning” mostly deals with throwing out old misconceptions or outdated methods of thinking, particularly in classroom settings. Verbatim, Richardson claims “it’s simply learning to see things differently or to at least be open to it.” I’m going to kick this section off with the last of Richardson’s claims, and say that the most important thing that needs “unlearned” is that real change can happen just by thinking it into practice. This is not a thing. Action needs to happen for change to happen.

Unlearning simply means re-evaluating old concepts, and being open to new ones. In education, this is probably the most vital piece of advice that can be given. Too many times I was at the mercy of teachers who utilized tired-out techniques they learned in school, and were unwilling to budge in any way, shape, or form. Each person learns differently. Each person has different passions. In order to harness all of this potential, flexibility needs to be a key factor.

This semester, I’ve unlearned quite a few things. I’ve unlearned that no one is making a charge to reform education. I’ve unlearned that social media is useless for anything besides cat videos. I’ve unlearned that blog posts are useless, because there are people somewhere out there paying attention. I still have a ways to go, though. I need to unlearn that most authority figures are pompous assholes who have no intelligence or empathy. I need to unlearn some of my cynicism and be a little more willing to believe in the good in humanity. I’ll get back to you when this happens.

Don’t hold your breath.

Thomas Hawk Photo CC-by Thomas Hawk

Innovation

In George Couros’s look into the mind of an innovator, he writes himself a mission statement:
“I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.”

As an educator, Couros wants to focus on new ideas. He wants to focus on open-mindedness, much like Richardson, and above all else, he wants to focus on what’s best for learners. For educators, this involves quite a bit of humility and searching.

It means acknowledging that even if you are an expert in your field, you don’t know everything there is to know. It means acknowledging students as people and accepting the fact that they have things to teach you as well. It means figuring out how to work with each individual learning style, and doing your best to realize that teaching a group en-mass using the same technique is a busted-ass idea from the get-go. Couros understands that these things mean going out on a limb, upsetting an established status quo and taking risks for a reward that involves maximizing learning output for students.

Couros also heavily endorses technology as a medium for learning. He claims innovators can do their best by connecting to others globally, gathering , comparing, and discussing ideas from all perspectives. That being said, Couros also claims we no longer need to throw the title of “digital” on everything: literacy, storytelling, learning, etc. It’s now all implied. Learning is changing. It all ties back together in the fact that we need to “unlearn” the traditions of old in favor of innovating. As I said, learning is changing.

I’m not sure I’ve done much in the way of innovation this semester. If anything, I’ve played it close to the chest and stuck with what I know. Same routines, same attitudes, same techniques.. because they work. And because I’m afraid of change. Soon I won’t have the crutch of academia as an excuse anymore, and we’ll see what kind of innovator I really am.

Yikes.

Novus