Different and Better – Week 8 Final Reflection

Much of the last eight weeks are a blur. I remember three different airports but could only tell you what the one in my home city looks like. I remember hotel rooms and rental cars restaurants, but the only thing that sticks out is hunting for a WiFi signals so I could get online and dive into school.

In this course, I had the opportunity to get to know many different versions of myself sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend, student, learning professional, and “teacher.”

Myself the Student

My learning in this course was hard won – not that the course was incomprehensible but in that the course was so dramatically different than any other course I have ever taken. This can all be boiled down to the ideas of “Push” and “Pull.” This is the first course where information wasn’t pushed at me and where I had to find my own way of pulling my learning from the materials into my sense of understanding.

This course also allowed me to explore texts in a new way. Instead of reading something and regurgitating it for a teacher, I was reading texts and finding a way to digest and integrate the materials to find my own meaning. Instead of having a teacher or professor tell me what was correct or incorrect, I had to determine that for myself or if “correct” and “incorrect” even applied. I could look at my learning from my own eccentric perspective and it would have meaning for me. Not only that, but I could also share that meaning with others and explore their perspectives, where we agreed, where we differed, and where we found additional meaning through our comparison.

“Push” and “Pull” have become new buzzwords in the Learning & Development function at my property. Now as we design learning and facilitate, we are talking about how we can avoid just pushing information at our learners and use the curriculum design to pull the desired conclusions and outcomes from their thoughts, words, and behaviors.

Myself the “Teacher”

As I’m sitting here thinking about ILT5340, I have realized that they’re really wasn’t one version of this class but as many versions of the class as there were students. As each of us read the materials and engaged in our individual explorations, we were each rewriting and remixing and mashing-up what Remi and Lisa presented to us that we were essentially creating our own curriculum and learning process within the course.

There were several key decisions that Remi and Lisa made that I think allowed this to happen:

  1. Creating minimal definition as to create space for individual interpretation
  2. Selecting tools such as DS106, Hypothesis, blogging and Twitter that required each student to build their own space (mental and online) within the course
  3. Minimal facilitation which made the student have to own their own learning process

As an Instructional Designer and learning and development professional, this has opened up what I thought were previously closed boundaries. As my team and I create learning, I’ve challenged them to start looking for spaces where we don’t need to be so proscribed in our learning design and facilitation. We CAN create spaces within our learning designs where participants can inject their own understandings and experiences and still have them arrive at the type of destination that we want them to.

Had Remi or Lisa just handed me a piece of paper that said what I’ve written here or in my Final Portfolio, I don’t think I would have found as much value as I’ve just now realized that I did find. ILT5340 is a “practice what you preach” type of course. Yes, you probably can teach the principles taught in this course in a more traditional setting, but then you would lose the power of the experience. Was it an easy experience? No, but now that I have a much clearer understanding of what was happening in my own head as I took the course I can see how the slightly chaotic and open-to-interpretation nature of the class creates real value for me as both a participant and would-be Instructional Designer.

Strangely, this takes me back to something my favorite elementary teacher once did. One day, she gave each of us a blank piece of paper and told us to make a paper airplane. After the shocked and confused looks passed, she repeated her instructions and challenged us to make what we thought was the “best” paper airplane. Needless to say, each of us created something wildly different from each other but here’s the kicker: each of the airplanes still flew.

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