July 2011 Archives

Last week I attended the 2011 Learning Design Summer Camp at Penn State University and led a small group discussion for the classroom of the future session. Having just attended the Hyper-Public Symposium at Harvard University and written about private and public learning spaces, I facilitated a discussion around the hyper-public learning space. I define hyper-public as complete openness, similar to a person that is followed around by paparazzi. This post provides an overview of the small group discussion and ideas. 

Using Laurent Stalder's notion of thresholds: "when do you begin to be in the building?", I gave an example of a high threshold: Penn State's Pattee Library (Slide 2 of Preso below), and low threshold: the Seattle Public Library (Slide 3 of Preso below). 


The steps and brick walls of the Pattee Library provide a boundary in a way that a person must make an effort to enter the building. There must be prior intent to enter the building. On the other hand, the design of the Seattle Public Library's auditorium invites a person to participate in a lecture/presentation without having planned for it. The Rolex Learning Center at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland is a great example of a hyper-public learning space, a space that invites someone in and provides a high level of openness (Slide 4 of Preso above). The following video link provides a glimpse into the design of the space from SANAA, the architecture team that designed the center: Video of the Design of the Rolex Learning Center

A hyper-public learning space is a space that actively encourages interaction. The design of the space invites participants. In the Rolex Learning Center, the design concept is learning as a social enterprise. That is, learning is an inherently social activity, and the design of the learning center provides an opportunity to engage and learn with others. In the video of the Rolex Learning Center (link above), the architects explain how the physical spaces are based around organic movement. The curves in the design of the center enable people to avoid collisions. The architects are proud of the space and want to be in the space, but what do students say? Our small group decided that before we can use the Rolex Learning Center as a model for a hyper-public design in our own community, we need to know if students want to be in the space. Are students using it in the ways the architects imagined? Moreover, is the color white for walls, floors, furniture too much? Too stark?

More important than the design of the walls, curves, and colors of a space, are the affordances of the objects within a space. Possible examples of affordances of objects are wheels on tables that allow students to move the tables to meet their needs, monitors/computers mounted on walls instead of tables so tables can be moved, couches instead of chairs in back of classrooms so outside students/people feel invited to sit in on class discussions, and pods that allow students to project their laptops onto wall monitors during group work. In the East Quad at the University of Michigan, learning spaces feature many of these objects and affordances. The following slideshow presents a glimpse of the learning spaces: 


These spaces change the concept of privacy in the classroom. Inviting outside students/people to sit in the back of class on a sofa during regular class activities is radically different than traditional notions of higher education. Is it possible to have our students unlearn their notions of a classroom so they will use and feel comfortable in these hyper-public spaces? Same question for faculty? Or are these spaces too radical?

In an episode of Seinfeld, Kramer and Jerry observe a hospital operation but because of the openness, find themselves as participants because of one Junior Mint candy. Inviting everyone to participate as observers or active participants is what the hyper-public learning space is all about. It is changing the classroom culture and requires a change in teacher perspectives. We have telepresence - the ability to communicate across the world; mixing in higher education buildings - living spaces, learning spaces, and faculty offices are all under the same roof; multi-purpose ceilings - sound can be manipulated to meet the demands of an event; and social media - we are no longer bound to physical space and location. The hyper-public learning space is a mash-up of all of these features. But, will our faculty change their paradigms and use these spaces in their practice? That is the important question.

Other examples of hyper-public from our small group discussion:
  • Bruce Mau's Institute without Boundaries 
  • Facebook's all open office building complete with living room type furniture and sushi bar
  • Apple's volleyball games during lunch hours and Ben Harper concerts
This past February, I contemplated the future of pre-service teacher education based on a conversation I engaged in at PETE&C - facilitated by Dr. James Bolton and Mr. Jarrin Sperry. 

"Because of the ever changing fields of technology and the learning sciences, pre-service teachers must be trained to be adaptive experts... Adaptive experts 'are much more likely to evolve their core competencies and continually expand the breadth and depth of their expertise as the need arises or as their interests demand.' (Rook, 2011)"

Just last week (June 28), Dr. Bolton and Mr. Sperry facilitated a panel and follow-up discussion at the 2011 ISTE Conference in Philly titled "Preparing Teachers for the Digital Age." In addition to Dr. Bolton and Mr. Sperry, the panel included the following teachers and/or teacher educators: Dr. Luis Almeida, Dr. Orrin Murray, and Ms. Rosemary Parmigiani. This post provides a synthesis of the discussion based on the backchannel feed and draws on thoughts from my past blog post to rethink the future of teacher education.

What must we avoid in the future of teacher education?
  • "it's not always about the equipment... more about the philosophy of tech integration" ~R. Morse
  • "my teachers struggle not only with the philosophy but how to use them as a part of a classroom routine" ~D. High
The consensus is that pre-service teachers do not have appropriate knowledge of the philosophies behind using technology in a specific lesson. Moreover, consistently using technology based on sound learning theory in a classroom routine presents challenges for pre-service teachers. Rather than separating technology, pedagogy, and content in TPCK models of teacher education, we must present technology in line with appropriate learning theories in specific content lessons, not on its own in an educational technology course. 

How do we present technology in line with appropriate learning theories in specific content lessons?
  • the profs must model for the pre-service teachers to break the cycle" ~V. Glatzer
  • "we can't model based on assumptions that the district will block something... instead model best practice so that they (pre-service teachers) can be a proponent for what should not be blocked" ~V. Glatzer
Teacher educators must lead by example. If there is any hope of having pre-service teachers come away from their teacher ed. programs with the knowledge and skill to use technology to support their teaching and learning processes, the teacher educators must demonstrate how this works. We cannot expect educational technologists who have little to no experience teaching in the K-12 classroom to guide our future teachers in applying appropriate learning theories to practice in technology integration. Instead, we must require teacher educators to be in the K-12 classroom themselves - constantly observing best practices so they are not left behind and teaching old paradigms to a group of pre-service teachers that will be expected to teach using a new paradigm.

What is the takeaway? What should the future of teacher education look like?
  • "we need teachers that can adapt to whatever they have available" ~J. Sperry
Regardless of whether students are asked to BYOT (bring your own technology) or use their mobile devices, we must have an expectation that teachers will adapt to new systems and not fold under the pressure of using new technology. After all, isn't lifelong learning a requirement of the teaching profession? We MUST be willing to fail and go back to the drawing board, learning from our communities of practice: local teachers, students, and learning communities on the Internet. That goes for all in the profession: pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and most importantly, teacher educators. 

References
Rook, M. M. (2011, February 23). The future of pre-service teacher education [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.personal.psu.edu/sum16/blogs/innovation_studio/2011/02/the-future-of-pre-service-teacher-education.html

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