Though my education career has been brief, I have been the recipient of many unique experiences with fantastic mentors. Dean Shareski has taken me under his wing, and has given me a chance to observe a number of classrooms around Moose Jaw. Dr. Alec Couros, has brought me into a couple of his education technology courses as an assistant. Dr. Vi Maeers, has given me the opportunity to work with the University of Regina’s Centre for Teaching and Learning as a research assistant. Each of these roles have furthered my thinking about education and the possibilities that exist.
This semester I have the opportunity to work as a tech assistant on another intriguing and mind opening graduate class, Ed 870 – Social Justice and Globalization. The description from the syllabus is as follows,
ED 870 explores the research and classroom practice of themes including how to be an activist teacher, health and nutrition, basic education, HIV/AIDS, child protection, gender equality, diversity/multiculturalism, First Nations, infrastructure services, human rights, democracy and good governance, notions of citizenship, private sector development, the environment/sustainability, how to make a positive difference; considers the implications of integrating these themes into the mainstream curriculum and into our professional lives.
Needless to say, I am learning a substantial amount from the course professor, Dr. Marc Spooner, as well as from the U of R’s Centre for Academic Technologies Manager, Glenn Enright and my fellow course assistant, Evan Thornton and of course, the graduate students. Dr. Spooner appreciates and embraces the realities made possible by technology to connect individuals both synchronously and asynchronously. The course runs face-to-face on Wednesday nights and full recorded broadcasts can be found here. The students have responded with blog posts, to snippets of recorded conversations from class recordings. Evan has done great work managing the course blog and creating this first assignment video. My role is to set up and run the in-class technology required to stream and record, as well as connect to virtual guest speakers and experts.
As I have mentioned, this course is one of the coolest episodes I have witnessed during my brief education career. I have seen global connections happen between a number of elementary and high school classrooms, and within several ed tech university courses. This, however, is one of the first non tech courses that has effectively used technology to reach beyond the walls of the course itself. Last class we connected with Dr. Anthony Hall’s course on Globalization Studies from the University of Lethbridge. Dr. Hall & Dr. Spooner addressed both groups with their knowledge, introduced the students, noted similarities between learning and gave the students in both rooms an opportunity for dynamic conversation and questioning. Two classes, two universities, two smart professors, an awesome exchange. I ustreamed the whole event (in two parts) to the world live.
Our next class is two weeks away and the plan is to have Ignacio Chapela, a microbial ecologist and mycologist at the University of California, Berkeley, visit via skype to share knowledge of the biotechnology and food industries.
Formal education is changing. The walls are coming down. I have front row seats.