Reflections on Chapters 1 – 3 of Teaching Naked
In the first chapter of “Teaching Naked” the author states universities will need to do more than deliver the content that is currently delivered more efficiently and cheaper online. The opportunity for Universities is to reclaim time for reflections and interactions that have been lost in the digital world.
Value and quality are to be measured against real outcomes that reflect where and how the learning occurs. Universities must address the financial and structural implications of access, affordability, quality and accountability along with demonstrating student learning through application, integration, and personalization of course content.
Technology has changed the educational landscape, providing greater availability through free programming, elite, for profit and traditional opportunities. Although the foundation of all these options still requires student engagement and motivation for student success.
Traditional universities have had a stand and deliver approach that I attribute to my lack of engagement and motivation during my undergraduate years. My hybrid (online and in person) graduate studies were a dynamic process where I actively made sense and meaning through the application, integration, and personalization of course content. This is what higher education and universities in particular need to deliver in today’s digital age.
I have struggled with technology over the years but I recognize the flexibility, depth of learning, and active learning opportunities would not have been available without these technological advances. Very recently I raged about the blog requirement for one of my courses – and now I have a sense of pride and accomplishment along with the recognition of the value that I have created in my education.
Technology has the ability to help traditional universities compete in this new era of global technology. Although, technology cannot be just another component/tool in the development of course curriculum, nor can it be seen as the next educational fad that will solve all the issues facing higher education today – but it can allow for individualized teaching and learning that will create time and space for peer to peer to faculty interaction within a classroom setting
Human interactions and experiences must be a priority of higher education. Whereas traditional studies were largely structured on conformity of knowledge, today’s students are completely different from each other and require a learning design that allows for individual perspective, curiosity, reflection and learning independence. Using the classroom as a cooperative learning environment promotes students working together to enhance the learning experience. Incorporating technology outside of the classroom allows students to be prepared for an action based approach to learning inside the classroom.
Finding ways to connect with students inside and outside of the classroom will influence how much and how often students interact.
Social networking outside of the classroom will be incorporated into the curriculum design through Facebook group accounts, tweets, and blogs. A blog will incorporate power points, video lessons and readings that will provide the knowledge required by students for the classroom. The most important benefits of the video lessons are human: allowing instructors time to work individually with students and talk to every student every day.
The Facebook group account provides an avenue for the students to connect and discuss course materials and tweeting provides an immediate connection for possible opportunities, reminders and encouragement.
Active learning in the classroom can now incorporate experimentation, research projects and class discussion. The classroom will develop supportive relationships that will enhance the cooperative/collaborative learning and provide individualized opportunities for learning.
Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques (J. W. Sons Ed. 1 ed.). SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bowen, J.A.. (2012). Teaching Naked. SanFrancisco: JosseyBass.
Peters, J., & J., A. (2002). Collaborative learning: People Laboring Together to Construct Knowledge. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Fall 1998(79), 75-85. doi:10.7908.1002/ace
Tucker, B. (2012). The Flipped Classroom. Education Next, Winter 2012, Volume 12, Issue 1, 82-83. ISSN 15399664
Connectivism, Collaboration, New Knowledge Creation
Higher education is investing significantly in the digital technologies for learning and teaching. Although there is a strong belief that technologies transform the learning environment they have actually reproduced rather than transformed (Flavin, 2013).
Today, students have access to so much information that teachers are no longer the ‘holder of the knowledge. Technology provides teachers with the ability to make connections with their students teach digital literacy and guide them to apply the knowledge they have gathered. Unfortunately, for the most part, Faculty continues to do what they have always done – although now they are using technology to assist in the delivery. Examples can be seen in text heavy power points; Prezi’s with heavy text, moving parts, graphs and charts, and even classroom lectures with failed powtoon videos.
As we move deeper into the technological age we must stop embedding technologies into established practices and pedagogies and create newness to teaching and learning (Flavin, 2013). Bowen (2012), in Teaching Naked highlights the value of technology in higher education as the connective interactions between faculty, students, the community and the world – not the text heavy subject matter delivered by the sage on the stag
As educators if we are using technology to transform existing approaches to learning and teaching, appreciative inquiry can provide a framework for success – discover what is, dream about what could be; develop a new design and operationalize the components (Cooperrider, Whitney, 2005). Creating change requires the ability to inspire shared visions that will bring educators together to foster shared commitments in creating a new image of education – using technology as a primary function (Kouze & Posner, 2006).
Initiating these changes have a high risk of failure (Kouze & Posner, 2006) but the benefit of eliminating text heavy classroom environments will allow instructors to re-create the dynamic of the classroom. My personal experience with experientially designed problem based learning has provided me with my most significant learning, engagement and passion for the subject material. Design structures that motivate and enable learning using technologies and experiential contexts increase the opportunities for all students to make connections with the real world and solve real world problems (Bowen, 2012). As a student I have experienced the power of seeing the direct implications of my learning and can appreciate the value technology provides in curriculum development and design of the learning environment.
Education in a technological age will be defined by connectivity and availability of vast knowledge. Institutions of higher learner will reinvent their value through connections with their students and the world, guiding the student journey and providing support in digital literacy and experiential learning environments. These changes to higher education will require strong leadership and a willingness of instructors and students to explore new learning opportunities with higher levels of accountability and student driven curriculum.
Enhancing courses through the use of technology requires a complete overhaul of class development and delivery. I would begin with structuring the learning outcomes to be reflected in the experiential learning opportunities as well as in the assessment criteria. Assessment will be developed through an informed conversation between student and instructor. Collaborative work will include problem-based problems that are connected to real life situations – working with agencies, businesses and even institutional departments. Mentorships will be developed between the students and the professional associations with a final presentation being a large part of the grading for the course.
Cohort learning would be an ideal climate where the instructor can interconnect the teaching between the courses. Cohorts also provide the opportunity to develop strong collaborative partnerships and an ability to work cohesively with a wide range of cultures and personal preferences.
Technology will allow the student to access the core subject content in a preferred style and at their convenience. Student and faculty interactions will provide connections for the instructor to help guide and nurture the student as they maneuver the vast knowledge base that is available.
Bowen, J.A., Teaching Naked (2012). Jossey-Bass, SanFrancisco.
Cooperrider, D, Whitney, D. (2005) Appreciative Inquiry – A Positive Revolution in Change. Berret-Koehler, 235 Montgomery Street, San Francisco
Flavin, M., (2013): Disruptive conduct: the impact of disruptive technolies on social relations in higer education, Innovations in Education and Teaching Internation, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2013.866330
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2006). The Leadership Challenge (4 ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley and sons.
Competition and Change in Higher Education
Bowen (2012), speaks to the challenges of higher education – decline of government funding; frustration over high tuition costs; global competition; a weak global economy; a demographic shift that will decrease numbers of students accessing post secondary education; and an ongoing technological revolution. Adding a Canadian perspective to this discussion, Canadian post secondary education (PSE) focuses on educational access and the broader societal imperative of increased post-secondary attainment for Canadians (Community Foundations, 2012). Both contexts require institutions to work differently than they have in previous decades and I believe opens the door to the technology revolution. In 2009, 3.5 million students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary education (PSE) and created an environment that highlighted “increasing diversity of needs…indeed, students – their backgrounds, motivations and learning needs – have added layers of complexity to the traditional delivery of higher education” (Fisher, 2011, p. 4). Both Bowen and Fisher recognize the need for institutional change for better student learning. “When the playing field changes, competitors immediately re-evaluate their strengths and look for new advantages” (Bowen, p.225). Although, changing the status quo of these deeply entrenched beliefs requires a paradigm shift that takes time and can be a difficult process.
My experience with change in higher education is that it happens very slowly if not at all. Therefore, I believe the challenges that Bowen (2012) outlines above are precisely what is required for us to address increased educational access, better student experiences and increased post secondary attainment.
Having spent the majority of my career in student affairs I can appreciate the concept that our product is an experience. A common refrain at orientations and community events included “We are the second page of your resume”! And for the most part I believe the experiences and opportunities that universities provide on campus are incredibly valuable for showing the scope of the learning to potential students, potential employers, and graduate opportunities.
But…that is my perspective and with the current technology revolution and the global market at our doorstep, higher education needs to become more things to more people in order to compete in the global market.
Defining who we are requires a collaborative effort to influence these required changes. Collaboration is complex, and part of this complexity requires working within a diversity of opinions, knowledge, backgrounds and experiences. The development of successful collaborative initiatives requires untangling these structures and beliefs of the different stakeholder groups, their cultures, beliefs, expectations, and values (Behl, 2003) – but according to Kouze and Posner (2006) initiating organizational change has an extremely high failure rate. Therefore, moving forward to clarify the vision and value of today’s higher education will require strong leadership from all senior administrators, senates, and board of governors.
There are two components to this discussion: What the changes will be and how the changes will be made. Higher education continues to struggle with economic and political changes that are creating complex demands on quality and accountability but, more importantly, the purpose and intrinsic value of higher education (Allan, 1997).
As Bowen states (2012), the focus must move to Integrated learning –away from content delivery and towards bringing together ideas, disciplinary thinking, people, problems and activities. Integrating student education with the big picture of their life will support students’ ways of thinking about education, personal lives, career and work settings. Removing the current disjointed silo approach to education will help prepare young adults for effective citizenship in today’s’ complex culture (P. M. King, Baxter,M., 1996).
George Kuh developed six principles to guide institutions in integrating curriculum: 1) generate enthusiasm for institutional renewal, 2) create a common vision of learning, 3) develop a common language, 4) foster collaboration and cross-functional dialogue, 5) examine the influence of student cultures on student learning and, 6) focus on systematic change. “The common element in each of the six principles is altering values through institution-wide dialogue. This collaboration is crucial to creating a common vision with which to provide a seamless learning environment for students”(A. Kezar, 2003, p. 140). As I stated in my reflections, strong administrative leadership is required for these large institutional changes that will be able to address the changing face of education
These changes need the technology revolution in order to be successful. Course content will not be the focus of the classroom curriculum but instead will be areas of classroom discussion and active learning. As Bowen (2012) states universities must “focus on motivation, student engagement, and the integration of academic and other student growth” (p.286). This will include creating social structures that supports and nurtures the student from an interpersonal perspective and creating a sense of affiliation and belonging, 2) creating engagement infrastructure that assists students to embrace campus life and all the opportunities 3) creating building blocks between peers and learning communities that will foster academic perseverance; the transfer of knowledge; and the acquisition of cognitive skills that can interface between disciplines and programs (Clark, 2010).
Teachers have to persuade both up –toward their bosses – and down – toward their students. Dan Pink (2016) in a Vancouver Sun article spoke about creating small wins and if you want someone to do something, make it easy for them to do it. Humans tend to resist changing their minds, so tell them why you want to do something and how it will benefit their work and connection with their students.
Clarity for students begins with the course syllabus and a detailed outline of how the learning will take place. There may be lots of questions and resistance to this approach to classroom teaching and the goal must be to make it easy for them to do and to succeed.
This is not a one-course/ one-instructor initiative. It will require constant conversation and building of key personnel who have similar thoughts and aspirations.
Allan, G. (1997). Rethinking College Education (Vol. 1). Kansas: University Press of Kansas.
Behl, D. (2003). Leadership for collaborative practice. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for Research in Education/Australian Association for Research in Education New Zealand.
Bowen, J.A., Teaching Naked (2012). Jossey-Bass, SanFrancisco.
Clark, W. (2010). Developing Strategies to Create Social Equity, Engagement Infrastructure, and Academic Collateral to Add Value to the First-Year Experience. Paper presented at the 23rd International Conference on the First Year Experience, Maui, Hawaii, 2010.
Community Foundations of Canada. (2012). Vital Signs. In D. O’Rourke (Ed.), #Generation Flux (pp. 16). Ottawa: Canadian Government.
Fisher, D. (2011). Leaders in Learning Student Affairs in Canada in the 21st Century and implications for the Canadian Associaiton of College and University Student Services: CACUSS.
King, P. M., Baxter,M. (1996). A developmental perspective on learning. Journal of College Student Development, 37(2), 163-173.
Kezar, A. (2003). Enhancing innovative partnerships: Creating a change model for academic and student affairs collaboration. Innovative Higher Education, 28(Winter 2003), 17.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2006). The Leadership Challenge (4 ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley and sons.
Pink, D. (2016, February 4). The Science of Influence and Persuasion. The Vancouver Sun.