The CLT Symposium was a beneficial experience because I was exposed to different areas of teaching or learning, especially with the Educational Psychology course I am currently taking.
I attended the keynote “Teaching in an Age of Complexity: Considering Open, Participatory and Equitable Pedagogies” by Catherine Cronin. Catherine Cronin, of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education began her keynote with a very eye-opening quote by Seamus Heaney. Heaney (1996) states, “You are neither here nor there, a hurry through which known and strange things pass” which deeply resonated with me. I genuinely love quotes because I believe they are little pieces of texts that can have more meaning than an entire book. The words of “strange things pass” probably resonates with any university students because you are put to the test on a daily basis with strange situations or obstacles being thrown at you. Nevertheless, her keynote identified numerous ideas that we encounter on a daily basis, one of them being the internet. I learned that in order for the internet to be an open space where people of different cultures can communicate freely, there must be a balance between openness and privacy (my Mozilla Health presentation topic). These two topics definitely go hand in hand. I understood her deep belief in the benefit of using the internet as an open space between “networked educators” and “networked students” because you are able to achieve so much more when you are in an open and free space. Yet, it also allows you to interact with people that you could possibly have never encountered in your physical spaces. I felt that this area of communication, which is currently on the rise, will be the future of education. My twin sister is currently taking a Psychology course in which they interact with other students from Colombia via Skype. They are able to listen to their struggles as well as share information about culture, acceptance and stereotypes, which in my opinion, will help break the mentality of “us vs. them” when you are exposed to people who are different than you. This talk made me really look forward to Soliya because I think that is exactly what Cronin is preaching. However, one thing I wish Cronin did differently was that she introduced several topics at the end but never really followed up on each one. I was waiting for a more in-depth talk but it never happened.
Another keynote that I watched online was “Reimagining Education in the Digital Age” by Dr. Alec Couros. Dr. Alec Couros examined how teachers enable their students “to contribute and not just consume from the web”. It was a very intriguing subject to think about because the internet is all about consumption whether it in the form of information or entertainment but no one ever thinks about how they can contribute to the web. Listening to the talk, I loved Dr. Couros’ charisma. He was very engaging especially since he was talking about platform that us, as students, use on a daily basis such as YouTube. He gave an example of how MIT have made their content public or how everything today can be found on the internet. It got me thinking: why do we need university if I can teach myself everything from the internet?, which was ironically his next discussion. Dr. Couros said, “If you can Google it, why teach it? and I think you must teach it because with passing on knowledge comes experience and our knowledge is shaped by our experiences. Hence, learning a new concept is not just that, it is understanding the struggles that the teacher went through in order to grasp this concept so that I do not have to go through the same struggles. It made me aware that the internet can be something so beneficial but also disastrous for the field of education. I felt like, in the near future, we will not need teachers but human interaction creates a bond that allows you to understand better than any other form of teaching. I once had a professor asked us why we think human interaction is the best form of education and why using the internet to learn or watch lectures is not considered the best. It made me realize that the internet takes away our facial expressions which in essence, can say a lot about a person. Thus, human contact can enrich your knowledge without even realizing it. However, one thing that I found unclear was how I can still contribute to content on the web. I never really found a clear answer.
You may watch the keynotes on:
Dr. Alex Couros: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7WIRmU9kts
Heaney, Seamus (1996). ‘Postscript’ in The Spirit Level. London: Faber.