This will be my last post to this blog as part of my administrative positions at William & Mary. At some point early in August, I’ll be ending more than 30 years as a college administrator and moving to a full-time faculty position in the Higher Education Program in the School of Education. Even after I make the move, though, I expect I’ll continue my connection an avid reader, commenter, and maybe even guest contributor.
I’m one of the few fossils left in the world who consumes a huge number of blogs through a stand-alone RSS reader, and at.blogs.wm.edu is a breath of fresh air in my standard morning fare. Under Kim Mann’s exemplary leadership, this site has been an ongoing resource for a growing community of people on and off campus who are wrestling with issues of technology, labs, classrooms, teaching and learning. (Very soon to be Dr. Mann!)
For the last couple of years, I’ve been existing on a menu almost exclusively of e-learning — first as Interim Director of University E-Learning Initiatives — then permanently in that position. I’m actually still excited by the enormous resources being unleashed by Coursera, EdX, Lynda.com and the other innovators in that space. But really understanding e-learning demands understanding **learning** in all its richness, and it’s been hard in recent years to find the cycles to process the change we’ve been experiencing.
Defining “Learning” Tells Us About the Complexity of Humans
I used to torture the participants in my adult education classes by locking them in a room for an entire class session with the task of defining “learning.” (I didn’t really lock them in, but they did end up working pretty much the entire three hours.) The white board they filled with definitions just scratched the surface of the richness of that evening’s discussion. Some of the definitions were cognitive, behavioral, or skill-based; a fair number represented the types of changes that could only be assessed and appreciated by the learner. Some of the stories we relived captured the transcendent or transformational. We left that room in awe of the complexity of humans and a sense of humility about about abilities our as “educators” to “manage” the process. Carl Rogers would have been impressed with the work we did on those evenings.
I’m hoping that my new position will allow me the space to continue to work on understanding e-learning while reconnecting with other important dimensions of self-directed learning and continuing professional education that were a part of my past life. I’ll be teaching a full schedule of classes — even a few fully online ones for a new certificate we’re offering for graduate students and community college faculty.
In addition, my hope is to help expand the outreach of the Technology Integration Center — working with April Lawrence and the other staff members there. There’s enormous expertise in teaching and learning in the SOE, and enormous need in the world for all of us humans to learn more deeply, more significantly and more effectively than we have before.