Tuesday, May 12, 2009

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Learning Is A Team Sport

This post is about the presentation that my colleague, Carolyn (randommind), and I gave at CNIE 2009 Monday afternoon (right after lunch in fact). The subject was "Learning Is A Team Sport, Or a Conversation About Learning In The New Millennium". Our presentation can be found on SlideShare if you want to take a look.

First just let me say that both of us had a blast presenting. This was the first time presenting at a national conference for both of us and quite frankly, I cannot wait to do it again. Much of the credit for that has to go to the incredibly engaged audience we had - the room was full and they played along with us.

The genesis of our presentation came out of a roundtable discussion that I had about a year ago at NSCC's Festival of Learning - many of our faculty come from a learning environment that was based on the individual - test, the term paper was king, a teacher told you what and how to learn, and that this is no longer where we or our learners are. As faculty we need to understand that learning is now in fact a collaborative process - between faculty and learners and between learners and learners and that we need to figure out what that means.

The presentation was interactive and participative, probably a good thing for right after lunch. I began with a simulation of the old classroom - "Sit down! Be quiet! Put your books away, pay attention to me, you are going to learn!". That seemed to get everyone's attention and allowed both of us to introduce ourselves and begin our conversation about learning as a team sport.

From there we moved on to a sorting exercise where my co-presenter asked a series of questions to separate the audience and to also get the audience to begin to know and understand each other. It's an amazing way to get learners to know each other and to get to know your learners. Carolyn did an amazing job of the sort - she owned the room and she was getting compliments well into today. For many of our audience it was the single biggest take away.

We then posed two questions:
  1. Does this impact the way we teach?
  2. What does all this mean to you?
The audience then did a Think-Pair-Share for 10 minutes (we only had one hour for the presentation). Once the time was up we asked for people to share their answers to our questions and the answers were quite amazing.

We heard the following:
  • How do I do this with little or no support from my organization?
  • How do I assess learning that's collaborative? (Maybe that's next year's presentation.)
  • Lots of comments on how they could use the sort activity in their courses both face to face and online. The sort was the highlight of the presentation
There were several more absolutely amazing comments, but we were both so absorbed in the conversations that neither of us took any notes. Next time we get pwople to tweet :-). The line of the conference may have come out of our conversations around the questions when one of the audience referred to the old style teacher-centric model as "full frontal teaching" - it was an apt description and was quickly twittered across the conference and beyond.

The presentation was over before we knew it - what an amazing hour and thanks to everyone who attended for being so collaborative and giving - you all clearly demonstrated that learning is indeed a team sport. I learned so much that I will "collaboratively re-purpose" and use in my own practice. The greatest thanks though must go to my co-presenter - together we did an amazing job that we could not have done alone. Thanks so much Carolyn...

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