Monday, October 21, 2013

2013-2014 Events Updated

A quick update on my schedule of speaking events for the 2013-2014 academic year.  Please come out and engage in the discussion if you see me in a town near you!

November 1st, 2013: University of Notre Dame, sponsored by the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning (South Bend, IN)

A presentation on how research in academic dishonesty can help us understand how to build better learning environments for our students.  

November 3-4th, 2013: Council of Independent Colleges Institute for Chief Academic and Chief Student Affairs Officers (Pittsburgh, PA)

I will be moderating a panel discussion on honor codes and leading a breakfast session on the book.

November 6th, 2013: Emmanuel College (Boston MA), EC Reads Program

A presentation on how research in academic dishonesty can help us understand how to build better learning environments for our students.

November 12th: Clark University (Worcester, MA)

A presentation on how research in academic dishonesty can help us understand how to build better learning environments for our students.

January 31st, 2014: Georgia Tech

I will be offering a lecture and workshop at a faculty retreat.

February 28th, 2014: International Center for Academic Integrity Conference (Jacksonville, FL)

I will be keynoting the Friday evening banquet.

March 24th, 2014: Ohio State University

Details TBA.

April 15th, 2014: North Carolina State University

I will be the guest lecturer at their Teaching and Learning Symposium

If you are interested in a possible visit to your campus to spark conversation about academic integrity, to provide opportunities for your faculty to learn about and discuss new developments in teaching and learning in higher education, or to orient your new teaching assistants or faculty, don't hesitate to inquire.  I should be able to squeeze in one or two additional events this academic year, but will be on sabbatical during the 2014-2015 year, so will be much more available then.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Armenian Faculty Development Cont.

So I have been busy fulfilling my obligations to the American University of Armenia over the past couple of days, and then today went on an all-day excursion to some amazing sites just outside the city of Yerevan.  In short, my ambitious plan to update the blog every day fell by the wayside as soon as I started actually doing the faculty development I had been brought here to do.

Sometime within the next week or two I will post a longer summary update on how that all went, but I can say without hesitation that it has been an amazing learning experience for me, a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas with faculty working in a very different cultural context, and a fantastic visit all around.

Tomorrow is another long day of travel to make my way back home, but I will return here soon with more substantive reflections on the experience.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Disruption (Armenian Faculty Development, Day 3)

As I am fighting some jet lag this evening/morning, I have time to squeeze in a post prior to my day of workshops with the faculty at the American University of Armenia.

One of Ken Bain's arguments about learning is that it has to begin with failure.  We are first motivated to learn when we encounter a problem or situation for which our current knowledge and thinking seems inadequate.  If we care about that failure, we then set out to learn.

More generally speaking, you could argue that learning begins with disruption. Something disrupts our normal patterns of thinking, behaving, or negotiating the world, and we have to consider things anew or gain new knowledge or skill to manage that disruption.

Traveling to a foreign country, especially a very unfamiliar one--Armenia, in my case--provides an easy example of disruption which can launch the learning process. All of my regular routines are disrupted simply by my displacement in time and space, and by the fact that I don't speak the language or know the customs.  So that means I have to switch on my cognitive faculties and begin to learn if I want to successfully negotiate the environment.  I grab a map and begin walking my way around the streets, checking my progress and noting familiar landmarks.  I listen to people speaking, tune in on simple words, and ask friendly waiters to teach me a word or two of the language; I watch people engage in everyday acts of business and imitate them as best I can.  All of these are attempts to gain the skills and knowledge I need to master a new environment--the most fundamental form of learning in which human beings engage.

And it all begins with disruption.  If I had a "fixer" here along with me, someone who walked beside me at every moment, translated everything for me, guided me through the streets, and transacted all of my business for me, I wouldn't need to switch on those cognitive faculties in the same way.  The disruption has to be real if it inspires learning.

Where does this sense of disruption fit into our normal learning environments?  Are students "disrupted" simply by arriving in a new classroom each semester?  Or do they need more disruption than that in order to push them into the kind of learning that I am experiencing over the course of these few days in Armenia?

Getting these thoughts down in writing seems to have helped my disrupted sleep pattern, so I will sign off for now and head back to bed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Traveling to Learn (Armenia, Day 2--Almost)

I write this blog post on the first day of my trip to Armenia, thought I have yet to reach my final destination.  I have a five-hour layover in Paris—not enough time to make it into the city and back, and yet definitely more time than one would like to spend in an airport, even one as lovely as this.  I caught maybe an hour of uneasy sleep on the plane, and it’s 10:00 am here now, so I have miles to go yet before I sleep.  I am more hopeful for some sleep on the four-hour flight to Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city. 

And yet despite this airport purgatory in which I find myself for a few hours, I have already been reminded of one important truth about travel and learning, the subject of my blog posts over the next week or so—namely, the extent to which travel learning engages the whole person.  Whatever we learn on a travel experience, we are typically doing so through a variety of our senses and faculties: we are moving our bodies through unfamiliar places, and negotiating unexpected obstacles; we are tasting strange foods, seeing unexpected sights, and hearing the sounds of accents and languages much different from our own.  We catch glimpses of people interacting in unaccustomed ways, and our emotions bubble closer to the surface of our skins. 

In these contexts I can feel my mind opening and blossoming, as I seek to understand the unfamiliar environment around me, and all of my cognitive faculties are marshaled into action.  How radically this experience differs from what my students normally encounter in their learning spaces every day, where they sit still, in the same spot, and do little more than listen, talk and write. 

Whether it makes sense to try and engage the whole person in a college classroom in the way that I find myself engaged right now, as a traveler, is a question to which I don’t have an easy answer.  Something tells me yes; but I also don’t want to oversimplify the issue.  Certainly there should be space for both classroom learning and for learning through an engagement of the whole person.  We offer plenty of the former; do we offer enough of the latter?

I am also reminded this morning/evening of the way in which cues of sight and sound can trigger memories.  As I walk my way through the airport, memories flood back to me of the year or two I spent learning French for my Ph.D. language exam—some of these memories are ones I have not accessed in many years.  I used to sit in our apartment in Wrigleyville, on Chicago’s north side, and watch the evening news in French every night in order to supplement the studying I was doing by working my way laboriously through French novels with a dictionary.  And now as I find myself reading French signs in this airport, walking in this unfamiliar place and hearing French spoken all around me, I remember vividly the face of that news broadcaster, his particular way of speaking and the turns of phrase I came to recognize.

So again here I think about the extent to which our senses play such a crucial role in learning and memory, and wonder a little further about the way in which we build learning environments in higher education which seem strangely sanitized of sensual cues. 

But right now my body needs less wondering and more wandering. 

Next stop Yerevan.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Armenian Faculty Development, Part 1

I am heading to the airport shortly for my flight to Armenia, where I will be doing some guest faculty development for the faculty at the American University of Armenia.  I'll be guiding their faculty in-service day on Monday, October 14th; on Tuesday I am holding open office hours to meet with faculty, as well as having scheduled meetings with various administrators; finally, the trip culminates with me giving a public lecture in Yerevan on Tuesday evening.  Sunday will be a day of preparation, with a visit to the Armenian genocide museum; Wednesday will give me time to visit some sights outside of Yerevan.  

I will be updating this blog every day, starting on Sunday, with pictures and stories and reflections from my visit.  Please check back for more!