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He created, and is the primary Instructor for, the Associate of Arts in Technical Theater Program at Johnson State College, a small state college in rural Vermont. In addition to teaching and administering a performing arts facility, Jan is currently working on the Naples 2.0 project and a synchronous, online course in Digital Media in OpenSim and Jibe. His blog can be found at http://blogasaurus.posterous.com/
The learning activity is the production of content in a technologically enriched design ecosystem of a performing arts center. I empower my students through designing or redesigning aspects of my learning environment. This is not a cookbook activity to describe. I start by utilizing the technology at hand and suggest different ways of using it and looking at it. Web 2.0 allows a wider audience to participate and helps students discover Personal Learning Networks and passion based inquiry. Web 2.0 encourages the students to build communities. I facilitate real world activities and outcomes through a productivity centered learning environment. This process leverages design activities to deepen student engagement and enhance immersion. Class or subject area: Varies Grade level(s): Varies Specific learning objectives: • For the Facilitator/Instructor: • Create a safe learning environment that allows students to take ownership of real world activities • Experience new ways students use technology • Synthesise each student’s passion in a meaningful collaborative project • Student: • Self directed learner following your passion • Discover and design for passion • Participate in the creation of a meaningful and tangible product • Learn the skills and understand the environment needed to become more creative • Collaborate for a shared goal • Reflect, publish and grow from your experience
Anniversary Book Project
Flipping the Facility
Blended Learning in a Web 2.0 Classroom
By: Jan Herder Creative Commons License: CC BY Author contact: email@example.com
Introduction Technology augments reality, it always has. We can think of our classrooms ‘outside the box’, as a ‘virtual learning environment’ augmented by the technology at hand: quills, dyes, charcoal, pencils, books, radios, TV, iPods. We don’t need to re create immersive learning environments in class -- we are fully immersed in life and the environment around us. Our perspectives separate us from the richness and complexity of the ecosystems which support us. Interconnectedness, in contrast, is the emergent paradigm. Blended learning is using technology to augment the environment as we deepen our understanding of it. We are designers of this interaction. Background I think about my facility as flipped in the sense that the students have responsibility for the product and content that emerges from it. I point out that it is a facility to show how our classroom is interconnected in a building and its related systems. It is a web2.0 classroom because it is based on student created content. There are faculty and programmatic structures in place-- but the learning activity is the production of content created from a student community --through design, productions, and media. When I created my program, I envisioned a transformed learning community and encouraged the components that nurtured community and collaboration. The facility would be a 100% student operated facility, including: a stage, the Box Office, costume shop, scene shop, videostudio, a recording studio-- Students take responsible, meaningful roles such as: Stagehands, Actors, Musicians, Technical Directors, Production Managers, Stage Managers, Designers, Directors, Dancers, Choreographers, Master Electricians, Master Carpenters, Master Sound, Master Props and Master Video, Costumer, etc. They do it all. Giving students the responsibility of the various positions helps them take ownership and commit themselves. This collaborative and cooperative team structure is one of reciprocal apprenticeships. It creates Department Heads (Masters), Assistant Department Heads and crew in each area. The teacher in all of us emerges in this scenario. I am inspired by the Barefoot College (1) where their model is to find the teacher in everyone. The apprenticeship and peer to peer model values the contributions of the newcomers as much as the students further along. As students take more ownership with their position and responsibilities they passionately dig into the subject area. The learning objective is to have the students become self directed learners following their passions. In a design based, productivity focused learning environment, students are incredibly creative and highly productive. They must collaborate in a high stress, constantly changing, diverse and technology saturated environment. They create tangible, measurable and assessable events and artifacts that, over time, give full testimony to their talents, interests and growth. It’s often messy, overtly dramatic; there is a tremendous amount of growing up going on--and not. This is the part where the culture of the students, creates the learning environment --and you have to
learn how to collaborate within it. Web2.0 for Passion Based Learning I think of web 2.0 as my Learning Management System. Primarily in the sense of “learner generated education”--see Jackie Gerstein’s User Generated Education -- creating and discovering content comes quickly in a context where the learner is engaged socially and is passionate about their project. That’s what students are doing with technology all the time: creating content and connecting and sharing. Facebook permeates everything-I think of it as the ‘social learning management system’ part of the media ecosystem. The students create multiple Facebook Groups: “Dibden Sound”, “Dibden Hospitality”, “Dibden Box Office”, “Dibden Lighting”, a new group for each production, etc. Naturally I had my own that they had to post to, “Dibden Learning Community”, and the overall program group page “Dibden Technical Theater Program.” I loved the proliferation of groups, the passion and experimentation that created them. The struggle was to have students step beyond the social networking and see themselves and their online personas in a new light, a professional light. Facebook is a place to experiment and have that social existence that lays the groundwork for a professional eportfolio. And now with Timeline, Facebook has pushed everyone in the direction of a digital portfolio revealing activities over time. Blended Learning Approach Blended Learning is not integrating computers into the classroom: It is blending face-to-face (f2f) and online synchronous and asynchronous learning. Mashing them up. The new Hybrid High School in California moves in this direction. Technology already augments the environment for our students. As teachers we are struggling to catch up and give direction to learning in this new paradigm: We are immersed in technology, processors, wifi, etc. Blended Learning uses the technology that already exists in the environment: computers, iPods, iPads, cell phones, etc. Students use them as tools to augment the exciting world surrounding them and connect to each other.
When a traditional instructional model is delivered online, the learner becomes more isolated than ever. By using a hybrid or by blending the model--including f2f with the virtual--you get the best of both types of delivery: experiential, real world productivity along with online discovery. In both contexts there are synchronous and asynchronous learning environments: synchronously in a virtual or 3D learning environment online-- as well as in the physical space. Both environments also host asynchronous activity among individuals, teams or departments.
In this context the community provides the specifics of the curriculum: the social, virtual and physical environments, and all the surrounding ecosystems-- classroom as ecosystem, ecosystems as school. Blended Learning Ecosystem is an emergent environment, meant to foster creativity and growth. It is an innovative and chaotic place. Social media brings the element of participation and community to the learning environment. Apart from the formal LMS, I have moved to a systemic approach: using a suite of sites and platforms. I discovered that learning is embedded within the ecosystems that surround through design. The technique to engage the passion of students with the project is design. This wasn’t obvious to me at first. Directing a facility for many years, I know the 2 drivers of cost: scheduling and complexity--in other words: design. By handing over the design and operational implications of design, the students assumed the responsibility of actualizing their work. Scheduling work calls, and persuading other students to show up to realize your design, students quickly develop negotiation skills. Their designs are quickly tempered by what is achievable. Students will work passionately to realize their designs, to see their vision manifest, produced. If there isn’t this type of opportunity for design in your situation, look to what has already been designed, simulate it and improve or transform it. Give the students the chance to design their learning environment or some critical elements in it. The Designer’s Circle is a great example of student centric learning using design. Every semester the Dance Club, with around 70 dancers and many choreographers, present their performance. Instead of having the production faculty designed, or even designed by one student, I tried a collaborative approach. The Master Electrician creates a repertory dance lighting plot, with input from other members of the crew. An open call is made to anyone on the crew who would like to design the lighting for a dance. Even non-majors are welcome. Typically there are 10 to 12 designers and as many as 20 choreographers. The student choreographers pick their designers from the list, or are assigned one if they don’t have a preference. The designers work with their choreographers and adapt their vision to the repertory plot. Less experienced, or inexperienced designers are paired with more competent students and the learning begins. It is a learning and teaching frenzy as alliances are formed, visions are enacted, gel colors are switched and the show evolves. I love the
way they collaborate and critique each others work, borrowing ideas, modifying the content, asking each other for help. It is interesting to see how much the Stage Managers or “Dance Club Liaisons” schedule and adhere to an equitable learning situation. Emergent learning environments are complex. Where do opportunities within that complexity intersect? In my situation-- a performing arts facility was the dominant ecosystem and became the classroom. In this case knowledge of a topic is an indicator (2) of learning taking place, as students produced an authentic project or production. Building on their knowledge and working together, everyone brings something to the learning table-Even non-tech savvy students are comfortable in the reciprocal apprenticeship environment. Students are supported by their peers to realize their design. The underlying structure of the repertory plot provides a baseline of support. There is no failure--of course there is always room for improvement. But this is not competitive--it is cooperative and the next semester the designers return with new ideas, greater confidence and better designs. Choreographers have a better understanding of what is possible on stage, and the work involved in producing their dance. Creativity. The confidence, the courage, the freedom to dream and to see your dreams come true. Design offers a way to inspire creativity and innovation. Design links and connects systems and produces ripple effects. Our classrooms are immersed within the facility, the ‘school’ building, which is immersed in the ecology of the community. Blending these learning environments with technology and ‘student created content’ encourages the self directed learner. Student centric design opens the opportunity to allow learners to design their own learning environment--flipping the facility. Here are a couple of related projects that inspire me with ideas about design and blended learning ecosystems: The Center for Ecoliteracy: See: http://www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/when-building-teacher Their mantra is ‘design, build, grow!’ “So who were the most productive people in the workshop that day? Who produced the most in the amount of time allotted? It was the elementary school kids, because they were first given the problem of designing their own ideal learning space, and they all built models of the things that they really cared about...Then they went out and played” Bioremediation of Waste/ Compost/ Grey Water filtration with the stunning “Living Machine” http://www.oceanarks.org/Education.php Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS): The local community mapped according to students http://participatorygis.blogspot.com/
References The Barefoot College http://www.ted.com/talks/bunker_roy.html http://www.barefootcollege.org/ “Gandhi once said that there is a difference between Literacy and Education. The Barefoot College believes that ‘literacy’ is what one acquires in school, but ‘education’ is what one gains from family, traditions, culture, environment and personal experiences. Both are important for individual growth. At the College, everyone is considered an education resource, the teacher as well as the student and the literate as well as illiterate. Therefore, the Barefoot College is a radical departure from the traditional concept of a ‘college’.” http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/everything-you-know-about-curriculum-may-be-wrong-really/
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