Trajectories and Swirls

In these past few months in my new role as an eLearning and Curriculum Specialist at the Teaching Support Centre at Western University, the focus has been on orientation – getting up to speed on the role, the centre, and where I’m headed in this new work.

Some days feel like I’m lost down the rabbit hole as I explore the myriad of eLearning technologies, pursue blogs and articles, as I acquaint myself with all that there is to know and do as someone who is expected to represent Technology on campus.

Reading Malcolm Brown’s EDUCASE article Six Trajectories for Digital Technology in Higher Education this afternoon gave me my first real sense of where I am headed with all of this. That is, at least to borrow his notion of working on a trajectory:

With a trajectory, we know where something is headed, but we cannot say—or we refrain from guessing—where it will end. Working with trajectories is an admission that we cannot foresee the unanticipated factors and developments that might influence the trajectory, accelerating it or perhaps instead derailing it entirely. In this sense, working with trajectories is a more humble and realistic way of facing the future.

In this role, all I can do is work on the trajectory, and this feels a bit like juggling in the dark.
 Erwin Shoonderwaldt, Juggling in the dark CC AT-NC-ND

It’s difficult to see what balls you’re juggling with and where they are going to land once tossed into the air. How do I stay (read: get myself) to the forefront of digital technology in higher education so as best to represent it and work with the Western community to lead change? Brown’s list of six recommended trajectories to watch certainly helps. I will be gentle with myself enough to say that it is both unrealistic and impossible to keep track of every arising trend, and so I will capture a few thoughts on those trajectories I’d like to juggle:

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

If you want to get lost down a rabbit hole, I’d suggest a few days of exploring the internet for OERs. Proponents tout OERs as though they are the next big thing that’s going to transform education. If so, we have a long way to go in terms of entry, ease of use, and applicability. I am also weary and curious as to the hidden agendas lurking behind OERs. How is something considered open and yet there’s clearly a fee structure built into it with CEOs and development teams at the wheel?

Maker and Learning Spaces 

I am curious as to how the concept of makerspaces can be made into cognitive makerspaces of learning. Can we come to see learning as coming into a room with various resources available to us for tinkering and playing for inquiry? What would this sort of space (physical or virtual) look like?

Adaptive Learning Technologies

Brown focuses on the companies at the forefront who are looking to the development of adaptive learning technologies as the next step to learning analytics. From an inquiry-based learning perspective, I’m interested in exploring how a technology might adapt to a student’s changing patterns of inquiry so that student and tool enhance the exploration of ideas.

Just as Brown concludes with talk of Student Swirl, I’ll adopt this concept for myself for I have come to see myself as a swimmer in a large pool of swirling water where my own trajectory is one of navigating the waters to flow with the unanticipated.

Joris Louwes Swirl CC AT-NC-ND

Maybe appropriately so, that swimmer in the water is still holding on to the wall but in the water nonetheless- a swimmer participant-observer. In her suit and in the water, readying herself to push away from the wall and go with the flow

Creative Commons License

Trajectories and Swirls by Lauren Anstey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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