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Engaging the Next 10%

Principles - TLT Group, TLT Roundtables, FISE
[This webpage contains several sections that need to be consolidated, organized - 20101206 swg]

Following from:  Personalizing Pedagogies - Principles  
Steven W. Gilbert, President, The TLT Group
October, 2002;  Rev. Oct. 2007

1.  Support variety in good teaching, teachers, learning, learners.

2.  Match learners’ needs with teachers’ gifts and vice versa.

3.  Exploit media to increase connectedness.

4.  Use technology to enhance, not undermine, personalization.

1.  Support variety in good teaching, teachers, learning, learners.

Not every pedagogical principle works for every teacher or student.  Nor does every means or topic of instruction.  Different learners and teachers have different purposes, needs, and gifts.  Information technology can support many different kinds of learning and teaching.

2.  Match learners’ needs with teachers’ gifts and vice versa.

How can FACULTY MEMBERS find and use the combinations of teaching approaches and technology that work best for themselves… and for their students?  How can information technology be used to help match learners’ needs with teachers’ gifts?

3.  Exploit media, increase connectedness.

Every medium can limit or extend our ability to perceive others’ characteristics and to reveal our own.  Every medium favors some kinds of communication over others.  Which media and which technologies are best for connecting which kinds of teachers and learners more deeply, effectively under what circumstances?

4.  Use technology to enhance, not undermine, personalization.

Technology, especially information technology, can be used to individualize instruction and make it more interactive – and to foster more direct, personal connections between teachers and learners.  Technology can also be used to standardize instruction and separate teacher and learner from each other.  How can we increase the personalization of pedagogy when appropriate?  [Without diminishing respect for de-personalized instruction when it is effective.]

[NOTE:  Yes, I know that we’re supposed to focus more on learning and learners these days, but we don’t need to focus solely on learning;  I think it’s time for a little more focus on faculty as well!  Just as no student can learn equally well in every way, no faculty member can teach equally well in every way!]

Following from "The Elusive Obvious - Handbook, Workbook, Book - Legacy"  

III.  Principles & Guidelines [Almost Timeless, Immutable]
What are the almost-timeless principles and guidelines that seem even better-suited to current and future conditions than past conditions?

      That guide the TLT Group
              We can't do everything, so we MUST choose some things
                 - we can respect and encourage some of the things we decide NOT to choose; 
                 - we can reveal the emperor's lack of clothing about some things we decide NOT to choose:  Leave the dumb big dick projects to others
                 - Better:   "Clothe the Emperor" - provide alternatives to big risky projects
- Better:  Identify, help others find "Many Small Swords, Small Stones"

      That can guide others
  • Hope for, work toward, but don't wait for the Ideal:  Top Down +  Mixed Collaboration  +  Committed Group/Office/Unit/Department + Bottom Up + Adequate $/Time Resources

  • Combine simple well-respected educational principles with new, attractive information technology options for improving teaching and learning in colleges and universities.
  • Take advantage of the deluge of information technology options that most institutions cannot own or control.
  • Crossing Boundaries - Hybrids always win!
  • Try to have strong support "from the top"
  • Support Engagement, Connectedness, Collaboration, Improvement, Small Steps,  
  • ==>  TLTR 2.0! FRLV  Many Small Swords, Many Small Stones FRLV  Constructive Assessment FRLV
Model:  Occam's Razor (15 minute format) began1984, with Robyn Williams introducing a leading scientist or personality who then expounds from a prepared text on a topic of their choice, with a view to making a subject simple and accessible to the public, hence the title relating to the famous statement on parsimony by William of OckhamIn Conversation (15 minute format) commenced in 1997, with Williams interviewing the personality.

Following from Nanovation - Background - Beliefs

Many faculty members and other academic professionals already share information about ways of improving teaching and learning with technology (about tools, resources, ideas, services, etc.).
Sharing information alone is not enough to sustain exponential incremental improvement in teaching and learning with technology.   

We can identify the characteristics and find/develop examples of the smallest units (materials, activities, services) that can sustain exponential incremental improvements in teaching and learning with technology.   

The smallest units likely to sustain exponential incremental improvements (Milli-Everetts) are those which enable and encourage individual faculty members each to:

  • Make one low-threshold improvement in one course.
  • Get a little feedback and use that feedback to adapt and try that improvement again. [Or decide to reject this improvement - and explain why to colleagues.]
  • Help two colleagues make similar improvements. So that those two colleagues are each similarly enabled and encouraged to try, adapt, retry, and help two more colleagues ... and so on.

Strategies for Frugal Innovation

"Frugal": These kinds of improvements are a good fit for peer-to-peer assistance because LTAs can be communicated quickly and easily: e.g., in:

  • a casual conversation among faculty,
  • a 5-15 minute workshop scheduled as an agenda item in a departmental meeting and led by a faculty member,
  • a page-long description written by a faculty member and appearing on the web or in a newsletter,
  • an eClip (brief video clip online that explains how to do something or why it's worth doing),
  • just a few sentences in an email or on a web page,
  • something as small and portable as a paper bookmark

We know of no institution that is (yet) world-class at helping its faculty find and share LTAs.  Accelerating the pact of informal learning by faculty is a relatively new approach to faculty support and development.

We'd like to help some of our subscribing institutions test this strategy for large-scale faculty engagement by trying at least some of the following steps.  Our suggestions fall into three areas: how to encourage faculty to consistently pay attention to this strategy for improvement, where to find more LTAs, and how to share LTAs.

  1. Focusing faculty attention on sharing of LTAs over a period of years

  2. Finding more LTAs

  3. Strategies for sharing LTAs

Such initiatives could help answer many questions.  For example,

  • Is it better to find a few widely useful, highly rewarding LTAs and then work hard to make sure all potentially interested faculty eventually hear about those few terrific ideas? or instead to help each interested faculty member connect with peers who teach similar courses so they can each discover LTAs that may be quite specific to that particular course? The first option involves a relatively small number of LTAs that can be vividly documented and persistently disseminated, while the latter strategy involves (across a college) a very large number of LTAs (shared by talking, simple email, or the like), only a few of which are seen by any given faculty member.  The first strategy helps assure that the idea is low threshold by doing a first rate job of teaching about it. The second strategy lowers thresholds by focusing on idea sharing among faculty in very similar contexts.

  • The answer to that first question helps settle a second question: should the typical medium of communicating  these LTAs be person-to-person conversation?  short emails? 15 minute workshops? online tutorials.  

Obviously it would be great if we could support "all of the above."  But few institutions and individuals can afford to try everything to share an LTA. By experimentation, institutions should be able to invent adequate ways to increase the pace at which typical faculty encounter attractive, rewarding, time-saving, easy-to-adapt ideas for improving teaching and learning in their courses.

Why Bother?      New VWWT       New Crunch     Education, Technology & Human Spirit    

Many Swords, Many Stones          Principles   

A Few Rights Reserved by the TLT Group, A Non-Profit Organization

Note:  You can probably create a Web page more visually appealing than this one.    
Please send us a link when you do.  Steve Gilbert, President, TLT Group, 301 270 8312

To participate, or for more information, contact Sally Gilbert
301 270 8312