This is one of a number of “sharing good practice” seminars organised by my colleagues at Moray House, and was more of an exploratory talk given by Dr. Laura Colucci-Gray. These are my notes, made during her talk: as much reflection as reporting. Any errors are my responsibility.
Laura reflected on observing her own children learning alone during the “lockdown” of COVID-19 and thought of the dynamic of (on the one hand) being connected, but (on the other) being disconnected at the same time. She observed that the machine that connects us leaves us no environmental cues, compared to the “real world” environment, which has displays, visual clues, artefacts of daily working to attest to the impact of our interactions with other human beings.
She included readings from literature on the work of the teacher, who has a role of “packaging” content for learners and set this in contrast to the context of learning in a social setting. This tension, she characterised as a danger in asynchronous learning contexts. She placed learners in our thinking not so much as individual units but humans undergoing a process of co-operative effort that takes place between binaries like male/female, nature/technology, local/global, and so on.
The traces we leave behind need to be thought about when planning and teaching in an asynchronous space. Laura exemplified this in image-making, experience of physical spaces, and in “utilising modes other than language creates space for different ways of knowing or being” (Liamputtong & Rumbold, 20081). The latter quote is in context of the use of music as making traces as a “soundtrack” to a learning course.
The theme emerged further in Laura’s ideas for using traces to provoke shared experiences, and through these shared experiences, my view is that a stronger learning community is established. She provoked the delegates to think and talk about how we can make use of the technology to create artistically shared experiences; how far to go to enable sharing something of themselves and teachers; what opportunities do we have in putting ourselves in the process of co-learning with our students?
At this point, a rich discussion followed, exploring the possibilities for us as teachers moving forward into a more asynchronous mode of practice. For me, this was an outstanding provocation for my thinking, as I set about more detailed preparation for new students arriving (virtually, mostly) very soon.
My own comment related to Lackovic’s inquiry graphics2 that we have worked with in interpretation and creation of imagery for understanding. I went on to ask how we develop the skills in our students to be able to communicate and express themselves using drawing and music, as much as we do with academic literacy now.
The final part of the discussion considered the opportunity and challenge in enabling safely the participation (or non-participation) of students in activities designed to “share something of themselves”. This was powerful and no less provocative to our practice and a memorable conclusion to an excellent session.
Liamputtong, P. (2008) Knowing differently : arts-based and collaborative research methods, New York, Nova Science Publishers. ↩
See, for example, Lackovic, N. and Crook, C. (2012) ‘Designs for learning, image-based concept inquiry, a DBR research project’, in Designs for Learning 2012, Designs for Learning, Copenhagen, Denmark, Aalborg Universitet København, pp. 47–48. ↩