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Respect Starts in the Classroom (or onboarding, training, or course)

Many of us are looking at how we can increase diversity and equity in our schools, organizations, or businesses. As a broader culture, many are beginning to see (some for the first time and some with greater clarity) how all the subtle and not so subtle racist and patriarchal norms create self-reinforcing communities of inequity and exclusion. The format and background content of our classes, online courses, training, and onboarding can show and teach us a lot about the subtle power structures and types of thinking that limit our communities.

As a former professor who taught humanities, writing, and narratives of wealth and poverty, and now a founder of a learning design company, it’s often crystal clear to me when an organization is likely to be a really great, diverse organization. It’s like reading a book, because I do read your book – your courses, onboarding materials, documentation etc.  Your “classroom” tells me a ton about what your organization values.

The absolute bottom line is that if training comes top-down, doesn’t allow for dialogue, doesn’t respect employee wisdom, doesn’t use diverse voices as subject matter experts, and is disrespectful of learner time and energy, you’ve got yourself a biased, old school, top-heavy, and maybe dysfunctional organization.  You probably don’t have a ton of innovation going on either, because getting every voice heard is key to innovating.

On the other hand, are your classes offering different formats (audio, or video, or text)? Is there a place for dialogue, chat, and questions – online or off?  Is the training creative and engaging, Does the learner actively create a product, learn a skill, gain a strategy, or develop a solution in the training or class?  Is participation requested, and wisdom of those on the ground respected? Is every voice heard in reaching goals and coming up with solutions? Then you’ve probably got a diverse and equitable situation.

Now, almost nothing fits neatly in one of these two camps. Reading your own course can be hard, but it’s worth it to take a closer look.  And one class isn’t going to change the world. But it might change someone’s day, week, or even month.  Even small shifts could be really helpful to people.

You can look at your course or training as a story, and your format as power relations.

How’s the story?

  • Does it respect the wisdom of people on the ground? Does it glorify the leader? Does it feel inclusive and kind? Does it boss and dominate? Does it assume a certain background or gender? Are all the “heroes” men? Are all the heroes white? It is worth taking a look.
  • Who is talking (and I don’t mean, “are your photos multi-ethnic with gender parity?”) I mean who talks, who shares knowledge? Where did the knowledge come from?

For example, I sat in on a 3-day onboarding training at a tech company in which the main story was the white male heroic founder, and the only speakers were white men who talked a lot about company “culture.”  The message about who owned that “culture” was loud and clear.

Or another: a company being sued for ethics violations issues mandatory one-hour, click-through ethics classes.  Who is being trained?  Those on the ground. Who needs the training? It looks like the managers at the top needed it. That’s the story.

How’s the format? This is your window into power relationships.

  • Are you teaching what learners need to learn? Have you ever asked them?
  • Do you invite and encourage participation from every learner? Do you encourage every voice, and not just those people who are most comfortable speaking or sharing?
  • Do you value connections among learners?
  • Do you teach across cultures, imaging that those of different cultural backgrounds have different preferred ways of sharing information—oral, visual, written?
  • Do you ask for feedback?

There’s a lot we can do for every learner.  Learn more, take a course https://archetypelearning.com/archetype-course-registration/

 

 

 

3 Amazing Things that Technology Makes Possible for Learners, and 3 Ways It Doesn’t Help at All

There are so many really great things you can do with technology in learning environments, but guess what?  Great teachers and professors everywhere have known all along exactly what it can’t do.  Here’s what I’ve discovered about tech in my many years teaching inside classrooms and out:

  1. Tech lets us reach across the miles. Recently, for World Pulse, I lead a training session that helped women from all over the world create strong and powerful elevator pitches that expressed the work they do in a quick and clear way. We had a live workshop for an hour!  With women all across the world!  We had a virtual classroom, and later I worked one-on-one to get things just right with each student via email.  There is no exaggerating the power of tech to connect us with a cohort of like-minded learners, who would never, ever be able to meet in a classroom. Awesome!
  2. Tech allows for individual pacing and space, and for continuous learning over time. Our client, Native CARS, has tribal members using their online learning out in the field to develop intervention activities for their communities – when they are ready, with the tools they need at the time they need them! No classroom will ever provide that, especially when you add the possibility of ongoing Q and A will experienced leaders and researchers–as needed.  Classroom teaching isn’t designed for this kind of ongoing learning. Great!
  3. Tech allows us to get the picture. We are currently working on developing an online module that guides learners through the process of clarifying and developing objectives.  Tech allows us to walk learners through a process step-by-step with visuals in a way a classroom couldn’t.  We can walk them right through it.  And they can access that anytime, whenever they need to do it.  Pretty amazing!

But tech can’t do everything, and here’s what technology can’t do, or does really badly: 

  1. Tech won’t make up for a bad teacher. Tech won’t fix the fact that the teacher doesn’t know how to teach.  There many smart, informed, experienced people who want to share what they know online. Some of them are good at building knowledge, and some are not.  Great teachers know that throwing knowledge at people isn’t teaching.  It’s downloading.  It may not help, and may even make matters worse.  Presenting knowledge is a way that creates knowing, builds skills, add up to something, and inspires further learning by connecting to students and to what’s meaningful to them is an art.  We all know it when we see it.  You learn.  It’s interesting.  It’s relevant and helpful.  It’s fun.  Tech can’t make that happen. It can even stand in the way.  For example, when I was a professor using clunky and half-useful software that sometimes didn’t work, and never did much.  It wasn’t helpful.  Good, and minimal, software, can create a great learning environment, but not great learning, not without a great teacher driving it.
  2. Tech’s technical problems can make it useless. My kids have a cool app they use at their school.  It works well, except that my kids pages have been blank for a month, and when I go to the troubleshooting pages, there are three categories, none of which apply to their app, all of which apply to their website, which I am not using.  So much for that.  Now, I have no idea what is going on, because the school doesn’t have an alternate form of communication. Now I have to call or email to get it fixed, and it takes so much TIME. It is an app that is supposed to make it EASIER for me to know what is happening in the classroom.  Is it worth it?  Maybe.  Barely.
  3. Online learning can be a huge waste of time and money!  I’m thinking now of a compliance-type training I had to click through at my old employer.  There were hours of it to do, and guess what, it all could have been covered in a staff meeting in 15 minutes, with maybe another 15-minute discussion where a scenario was shared and staff discussed what they would do, how they might comply, and any ethical issues that they found troubling.  Best practices could be reinforced in the group.  Done!  This would have produced better learning, better compliance, and saved the company tens to hundreds of thousands in elearning build fees.  Sorry elearning companies, there is a place for you, but not there.  What a waste!

The moral of the story is learning tech is great and amazing, but won’t replace substance, teaching skills, and common sense.  Not now, not ever.

Check out our PSU summer online courses for educators

This summer, we will be offering two great, high-impact classes that are going to bring new approaches and inspiration to your school, classroom, or program.  Both are online with a few meeting times to supercharge your connections.  In Designing Digital Learning for Connection, Curiosity, and Engagement, Julia and her awesome collaborator Tiffany Purn will lead you through an exploration of the best digital methods for encouraging deeper learning.  And you will walkaway with a powerful plan and toolkit to build a class, unit, or curriculum with.  In Design Thinking in the Classroom, Julia introduces you to design/build methods that can be used to teach any subject matter — turning the class and curriculum into a rapid prototyping lab for defining solutions based on knowledge.  Go to our PSU link to learn more and register.

Course: Designing Digital Learning for Connection, Curiosity, and Engagement
Credits: Undergrad 4/Grad 5 or NC
Instructors: Tiffany Purn, MA, Julia Hammond, PhD
Fees: Archetype Learning Fee $775/850, PSU Credit Fee $240/300
Dates: 8 week summer term, June 26-August 19

Everyone is going digital–including our teachers and our schools.  Digital learning engages our students and lets us reach across miles, time zones, cultures, and schedules.  And yet many of us know that human connection, collaboration, problem-solving, curiosity, and genuine engagement are the soul of great teaching, and we wonder if digital learning can really engage our students in powerful ways.   In this course, we will explore digital methods that encourage deeper learning. Participants will walk away with an actionable plan for their class, school, or district, built from a toolkit of unique online models.

Course: Design Thinking in the Classroom,  CI 410/810
Credits Undergrad 4/Grad 5 or NC
Instructor: Julia Hammond, PhD
Fees: Archetype Learning Fee $775/850, PSU Credit Fee $240/300
Dates: 8 week summer term, June 26-August 19

Design thinking is one of the most valued processes for innovation in many companies today.  And for our schools and students, the design/build process is an incredible addition to the classroom — one that is inherently student-centered, therapeutic, collaborative, creative, and focused on problem solving.  It teaches 21st century skills, and can incorporate lessons in research, technology, science, math, art, history, and language.  Class participants will gain an overview of the design thinking process as they apply the design thinking framework to their own curriculum in any subject, or to any school- or system-wide challenge – with great results.

 

 

Design Thinking in the Classroom at PSU Spring 2017

Archetype Learning is excited to have been accepted as a cooperative agency offering courses for the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University.

Design Thinking in the Classroom

In Spring 2017, we will be launching our first online class for teachers and school administrators — Design Thinking in the Classroom.  Design thinking is one of the most valued processes for innovation in many companies today.  And for our schools and students, the design/build process is an incredible addition to the classroom — one that is inherently student-centered, therapeutic, collaborative, creative, and focused on problem solving.  It teaches 21st century skills, and can incorporate lessons in research, technology, science, math, art, history, and language.  Class participants will gain an overview of the design thinking process as they apply the design thinking framework to their own curriculum in any subject, or to any school- or system-wide challenge – with great results!

Design Thinking For Your Organization

Julia is excited to be teaching this course, It is going to be lots of fun, teach competencies that can be used anywhere, and use all the best in our online learning toolkit.  We will offer this one again in the summer, for teachers doing their continuing education credits, and will add more courses for other kinds of learning organizations as we go, including Design Thinking For Your Organization, and Share What You Know: Create Online Training with a Big Impact.  If you are interested in any of these courses, or know someone who might be, please send us a note using the form below for more information.

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