Pedagogically, I believe in preparing involved citizens and future leaders. Learners negotiate an increasingly connected global society. Preparing active and creative societal members to succeed in this environment drives my model of lifelong learning. In turn, this fuels a passion for developing strong school and community ties, building a larger social learning context. Learners embody their role as citizens and leaders, actively shaping the a climate of cooperative study with choices designed to allow them to center themselves within their learning context. I see learners as striving to become internally motivated, self directed people who want to be respected for their life experiences and goals. To that end I work to make sure all learning is relevancy oriented and practical.
I primarily teach in the area of instruction and technology with an emphasis on emerging technologies and media especially the use of games. While it is important for me to be expert in this subject matter, most of those I “teach” do not learn from lectures. Instead I strive to create an equitable space rooted in a social constructivist philosophy. My goal is to create an environment that motivates students to build their own understanding.
Teaching Goals and Strategies
- Blending Theory and Practice. Technology and instruction have become intwined and in symbiosis, advance at a rapid pace. The educational technologies afforded instructors evolve as quickly as we can provide facilitation to understand them. On the one hand educators need to understand the tools for today. On the other they must understand the underlying principles of instruction and technologies so that they can transition to new tools. To this end educators need an understanding of curriculum and instruction, design principles, engineering constraints and principles, and the psychology of how people think and act. Through both theory and practice teachers can act as instructors in this rapidly progressing landscape.
- Discussions, interactive labs, and active work are tightly interweaved throughout the course. As in a good game I blend theory and practice throughout instruction. Taking cues from “maker spaces” and ideas like Google’s “20% time”, the learning spaces I try to create are environments for exploring the given subject matter.
- Learning how to learn and re-envision learning as play. I am critical of instruction that caters only to a small portion of the learners. While students need to break out of their comfort zones we must also be critical as educators and seek ways to help student shape and reshape their own conceptual biography. Instruction must be aware of the relationship learners have between their idea of how they should live in the world, the contingencies of knowledge, and the values of human knowledge in culturally and politically responsive ways. Learning is a play with these identities and a balance must be maintained between freedom of expression and security of structure.
- Creativity is encouraged rather than looked down upon. Creative thinking and problem solving are paramount for success, maybe not in one’s first or second job, but in your overall career. Without creativity, there is no innovation. While creativity is difficult to teach, I try to encourage creative thinking by integrating brainstorming activities and creative challenges into the classroom. To encourage creativity in assignments, I provide an example structure students can follow, but encourage deviation. If learners feel the goals and objectives are not valuable to them then we should define alternative goals and objectives.
- Learners define the learning. Learners have a responsibility. They must show up, they must want to learn, and they must put forth effort to do so. Second, every learner has a different background and starting point when they come to my class. It does not matter if they are a novice or an expert in a given subject matter, they can get something out of the experience, be it enhanced knowledge, an alternative approach, experience communicating with others, or even how they might teach (or not teach) this subject matter in the future if given a chance.
- Fostering mutual respect in the classroom. It is important for me to foster a classroom environment of respect. This includes not only respect for each others backgrounds, respect for each others time, respect for each others thoughts, and respect for each others performance in the classroom but also respect for the subject matter itself and respect for the process of learning.