Reason & Rigor Ch 3 Reflection Questions

Why do you want to study what you want to study?
I project that educators and institutions will continue to use LMSs in the future. They see the value in a shared virtual space that can house instructional materials, provide a common space for collaboration, and a centralized deposit of educational products. Instructors, I presume, will not want to go back to the analog version of grade books where they need to enter grade data at the end of the school—term. From this, I see so much potential for LMSs, but thus far are seriously lacking. Faculty, even in an instructional design and technology program at an R1 institution, are continuously looking for tools to fulfill their needs. With my background in technology and nearly three decades of working with faculty on their technology-related need, I feel drawn to trying to help improve these systems as they continuously become more central to educational settings and lifelong learning.

Why do the topic and context matter to you personally? Why might it matter to others?
Throughout my own experience as a student through the transition to the digital age, I can remember as early as third grade thinking that there is a better way for technology to serve the needs of the classroom. This mentality has not diminished with time but only grown stronger. Technology itself is not a means to an end or the ultimate answer to a question not asked, but a tool; much like how a hammer replaced a rock, technology must be refined to better serve the needs of the times. I believe people enjoy learning, it is an innate flame within humans, but too often school gets in the way of learning. I think better tools that facilitate natural curiosity and help students be rewarded for their creativity and expressions will help repair this relationship.

Whose thinking about your question or topic has influenced your own, and why?
Much of my own thinking has driven me to desire these idealized systems. However, most recently, George Siemens and Stephen Downes, the co-authors of the paper introducing connectivism, really opened my eyes to alternative ways of conceptualizing learning in the 21st century. His research spurred my curiosity into education reform for the digital era. Their research led me to Cathy Davidson, in whose book I learned that the foundations of the current educational system were developed by the Harvard president, Charles Eliot, et. al., in 1869 in response to the industrial revolution! We are still teaching and learning in the 21st century in a world where you can instantaneously video chat with someone on the other side of the planet or watch someone do a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, using the same educational system that was thought up when factories first became a thing. Back then, division of labor was all the rage, which is likely a large reason for the division of thought we find throughout education from the drummed-down labeling of courses (i.e., English I, Social Studies) to departments on a college campus that rarely engage with each other. The world is an increasingly connected place, yet our educational system reflects a world of the past.

If you could engage in thought partnership conversations about your topic to further your own thinking, whose opinions and perspectives might challenge and help you to develop yours? And what questions would you ask them?
I would certainly like to have a conversation with George Siemens and Stephen Downes to ask how they arrived at their model, what were the personal anecdotes which led them there. Also, their research was originally published in 2005, how has their thinking and perception of their model changed? Are there particular trends or technologies that they see as driving the change?

I would also like to sit with Cathy Davidson. Her book The New Education is a very insightful read of how there are small pockets of change and innovative initiatives to make the best of what we have, but I would be interested in her thoughts of what needs to change for bigger impacts. Would a governmental policy be able to make big enough shifts, does it have to start with a consortium of institutions, or is the only way a grass-roots movement?

If I were able to, I think it would be interesting to sit with Charles Eliot and learn about the struggles and considerations he had when constructing his model in The New Education.