We’re nearing the end of Learning Event Nine of the #WalkMyWorld Project 2015. You can learn more about the learning event by clicking here.
This week we pulled together many of the tools and narratives we’ve used over the past two months to document a walk in each of our worlds. As we have shared and connected, each of you has opened up and shared a bit about what makes you unique. You’ve shared expertise, perspective, love, and loss. In Learning Event Nine, we’ve followed the lead on of the WNYC Radio Rookies and Webmaker Clubs to identify ways to report and advocate for others.
Over the past week I have been busy traveling, presenting, and talking about this work to others. I have explained the #WalkMyWorld project and the open learning experience that we’ve built up together. In my travels, I have also spent some time sharing work on another research piece that I completed with my colleague Shane Smith. In these discussions I was brought back to Learning Event Nine and was struck by a couple things that I find very interesting when thinking about pedagogy in online spaces.
Open may be the secret sauce
In the Multicultural Education & Multiliteracies (ME& M) research that I shared in my research talks, we used a closed Google+ Community to have students read and discuss issues of identity, diversity, and multicultural education. The implications of the study call into question the challenges of having pre-service teachers read and discuss issues of identity and diversity, and then having it impact their teaching practice. In that study, some of the participants engaged in Communication Accommodation Theory (Giles & Ogay, 2007). Basically this means that students said what they thought we wanted them to say.
In thinking through this previous research and juxtaposing it with our work in #WalkMyWorld, I realized that not many of you are exhibiting these same behaviors. In the research talk I expressed this, and hypothesized that it might be because the work in #WalkMyWorld is open, whereas the earlier research in ME & M was in a closed classroom. By adding the exposure of the open learning space, we added a level of authenticity which may be primarily due to the global audience viewing the content.
Learning through knowledge construction
Also while discussing the ME & M research, a colleague asked a very direct question about impact of this work on pre-service education. Specifically, the participant indicated that in their program, they ask students to read about diversity and urban education. They then ask students to discuss and write about how they are situated or impacted by this work. Finally, they have them teach and reflect in urban schools to see if it impacts their teaching to make it a bit more culturally responsive. The participant also shared that, for the most part it did not significantly effect teaching or reflections by the student teacher. They have tried and had some success in having the pre-service teacher write, reflect, or respond to the urban environment, and possibly conduct case studies on individual students, but questioned if this would work.
My response was that the best option might be to have the pre-service teacher, and possibly a group of students complete the “story of us” activity that you all have completed for Learning Event Nine. In this activity we find an opportunity to reflect and connect with others. We also find an opportunity to document our own lives, while also advocating for problems or challenges that we all may encounter. I’m thinking that this form of knowledge construction is a necessary piece at the end of reading and reflecting about diversity, identity, and culturally responsive teaching. Perhaps the full sequence would include initial readings or exposure to a topic, followed by some hands-on experience, and finalized with an opportunity to make a story that shares and connects our perspectives. In my work, this has been about culturally responsive teaching…but the content in your class, area, grade may be different…but the model still works.
Cover image CC BY 2.0 Archives Foundation
Top image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Neil Slorance
Middle image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Neil Slorance
Bottom image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Neil Slorance