Welcome to Wired Ivy… Summer Shorts! Kieran here with some thoughts on what we call teaching and learning that takes place outside of a brick-box classroom.
When you think about it, terminology is a kind of short-hand. Having an established, defined vocabulary allows academic colleagues to discuss their discipline without having to explain what they mean by every technical word they say, every time they say it.
So isn’t it odd that,125 years since Wolsey Hall, Oxford, became the first college devoted to the practice, we’re still struggling to agree on what to call teaching and learning that doesn’t take place with everyone together in the same room?
At various times and institutions, this bundle of education delivery strategies has been called: correspondence, extended, broadcast, connected, distributed, distance, e-learning, online, EdTech, and virtual. Each of these, and other terms, arose out of a desire for a more precise definition in response to innovations in software, hardware, connectivity, and engagement.
Correspondence worked… until the postal service was no longer the only feasible way to deliver lessons and turn in assignments.
Connected was apt when students met in geographically dispersed classrooms joined by communication cables but faded away when the Internet changed everything.
Distance was a fitting descriptor until it became clear that on-campus students found this flexible delivery model every bit as attractive as off-campus students.
Online has grown in popularity even though students don’t necessarily have to be on the network while engaging with course materials and assignments.
Virtual can easily encompass the range of course design and delivery involved but it suffers from the stigma of “pretend” or “not really there.” That’s problematic for universities, which take pride in awarding credentials based on academic rigor and measurable outcomes.
Most recently, the term Remote has been used to differentiate between courses that were intentionally designed for a dispersed audience and courses created during an emergency pivot from campus to cloud.
To complicate matters further, there’s the ever-more porous wall between traditional face-to-face and nodal delivery. As soon as early-adopter faculty got curious about these new instructional formats, then realized what they were doing online might work just as well offline, they started flipping classrooms and the academic waters got choppy fast.
Add to this the broad adoption of learning management systems (aka LMS) and we’d be hard-pressed to identify a single university course at any institution that doesn’t have some level of technology enhancement.
Are you starting to see why it’s so hard to tell others, in or out of academia, what you do, and have a reasonable expectation that what they heard and understood is what you meant?
Still, you wouldn’t think the higher ed community would have such a hard time coming up with an inclusive, adaptive, or even metaphorical name for all the instruction that doesn’t happen in front of a chalkboard. I mean, various members of our profession have coined vernacular for concepts as complex as axiology, the Gaia hypothesis, relativity, quarks and hadrons, not to mention consciousness, which we know to exist and yet, despite centuries of debate and research, still struggle to explain. Nonetheless, there’s a word for it.
Surely, then, if we put our collective heads and diplomas together we can come up with a single word or phrase that means “I design and deliver higher ed courses by curating content, technology, and delivery channels that help my students meet their learning objectives, anytime, anywhere.”
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CITATIONS AND REFERENCES
Axiology is the philosophical study of value, used by Paul Lapie in 1902 and Eduard von Hartmann in 1908 as a collective term for ethics and aesthetics.
Consciousness at its simplest is sentience or awareness of internal or external existence. The concept is considered to by both the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.
Gaia hypothesis, aka the Gaia theory or Gaia principle, was co-conceived by chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s to describe the synergistic, self-regulating, and complex system of organisms and their inorganic environment that maintains and perpetuates the conditions necessary for life on the planet. The concept was named after Gaia, a character in the Geek mythology pantheon who personified Earth.
Quarks are a type of elementary particle considered to be a fundamental constiuent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons. The most stable hadrons are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei.
Relativity is a generally accepted and experimentally confirmed theory in physics regarding the relationship between time and space. In Albert Einstein’s original treatment, which built upon earlier work by Hendrik Lorentz, there are postulates: 1) the laws of physics are identical in all inertial frames of reference; and 2) the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the motion of the light source or observer.
And now for your entertainment… and the inspiration for this episode’s title, the first act in Wired Ivy’s virtual Summer Shots music festival!
Wired Ivy is wholly owned by Kieran Lindsey and Daniel Marcucci, and we are solely responsible for its content. Views expressed in this podcast and affiliated media are those of Kieran, Dan, and our guests, and do not represent Virginia Tech or any other institution. Our audio engineer is Star Path Images, and a license for our theme music, Breakfast with You, was purchased from SmartSound.
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