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Bold Ideas to improve PSE Teaching & Learning

At our recent Liberating Structures workshop, participants were invited to use the 25/10 Crowdsourcing activity to consider the question:

If you were 10 times bolder, what would you recommend to improve teaching and learning in post-secondary education?

Here are their responses, grouped into themes, duplicates removed (but shown in bold), and roughly in order of “highest rated” by the folks in the room.

Learning Design: how we understand, approach, and support Teaching & Learning

  • Faculty and all instructors must know – or learn – how to design, deliver, and support effective and impactful learning opportunities  –  this theme came up multiple times, and had a few key repeating sub-themes, including:
    •  Lectures: reduce significantly or eliminate entirely – this idea came up more than any other comments stating that other, more active methods are more effective to support student learning and engagement.
    • ALL post-secondary faculty and instructors should be supported (and expected) to expand their teaching practice and knowledge about teaching and student learning in the same way they are supported (and expected) to do research in academic disciplines.  Possible support strategies include: time/release time, money, status/recognition, micro-credit/badging for PD, tenure opportunity,  orientation/onboarding that provides Ed Tech experiences, required PD modules/intensives/programs that address learning design, mentorship programs/networks, faculty/peer classroom observations and feedback, faculty communities of practice, faculty coaches, etc. One participant noted we could help faculty “…ENJOY teaching more and learn[…] how to ‘get out of marking hell'”
    • Learning Centred Approaches – put learning first, and quality of thinking at the centre of teaching and learning
    • Experiential, real-world learning: we must provide more experiential, multidimensional, and applied learning opportunities.  Collaborate with industry and community organizations to design mutually beneficial and transformative learning experiences.  All programs can respond to real world opportunities available in communities as part of real life learning curriculum.

Learning Environments: how we design online and on-campus spaces

  • Take learning outside the classroom (literally, outside…into nature)
  • Change classroom layout to eliminate “front of the” room for instructors”
  • Increase access for people with disabilities
  • Each classroom and student is equipped to do visual learning and visual thinking (e.g., sketchnotes, graphic recording, kanban, graphic note taking, comics, collaborative visual methods and all textbooks are visual)
  • Innovative, visually appealing, engaging online course content – brainstorm with media tech personnel for ideas
  • Fully integrate digital, online and physical environments (start by building a model course)
  • Upgrade all teaching spaces to highest standards (climate, technology, ergonomics, etc.)
  • Class Size:  Get rid of any class over 100 students

Assessment Practices

  • Get rid of grades!
  • Focus on assessment for learning
  • Flexible access: less emphasis on grades for entry into programs
  • Seek assessment methods that balance alternative and flexible assessment (e.g., life experience) with faculty workload, and fairness/transparency.
  • Assessment practices: limit individual testing, more group assessment
  • Value alternative forms of learning, understanding and expression

Access to Education

  • Free courses for all.  You only pay if you need the credit.
  • Everyone should have access and use open ed resources. Make education more accessible!

Student Voices & Choices

  • More feedback from students as to what they need to learn and succeed
  • Focus on helping next generation to achieve their max potential by nurturing and developing their strengths, skills, abilities. Stop worrying about profit, social norms, or other constraints
  • Let students choose courses to reach degree so they don’t have to take course they already have experience with and have learned through work experience, workshops, conferences, etc.

Technology Literacy

  • Frame technological literacy and skills as essential core learning outcome
  • Integrating information literacy goals and outcomes throughout the curriculum in partnership with university library

Liberating Structures

  • Launch Liberating Structures User Group/Practice Group in Person
  • Have everyone in education try to facilitate a LS with the purpose of trying to answer this question (if we were 10x bolder, what would we do to improve teaching and learning in post-secondary education)
  • Have administrators experience Liberating Structures as a tool for learning

Other Bold Ideas…

  • Create a culture where all institutions in BC collaborate and pool skills/resources to lead learning sprints for faculty
  • Remove tenure from the professor track; everyone is sessional.
  • Cut 80% of programs at all universities in BC and invest in properly designing and differentiating the rest
  • Slow down and practice stillness a few times each day (in the classroom, office, meetings, presenations, etc)
  • Review the academic semester cycle to include alternative programming models, e.g., 3 classroom days, 2 work experience days
  • Lower ratios. Seek more $.
  • Include mandatory audit of at least three courses as a degree requirement

What is YOUR 10x bolder idea to improve teaching and learning?

Participants shuffling cards in 25/10 Crowdsourcing activity. Very Cool Photo by Nancy White