In this workshop, up to 40 participants experience the result of a student-designed curriculum demonstrating networked open learning through music. Students, supported by their teacher, present content they designed and taught as part of the International Experience module in February 2018 to school children and camp councillors in California. This musical experience with ukuleles is both a real and metaphoric representation of connected networks and integrating aspects of ‘open’ into instructional design. No musical experience is needed.
The workshop comprises three sections:
The International Experience module at the University of XXXXX was instigated by a student-led open learning initiative (Ritchie, 2017) and later adopted within the curriculum as a credit-bearing class. Each year students apply to the module and up to six are accepted. Students demonstrate agency, design their learning experiences, planning details of the trip abroad, their teaching interactions, logistics of travel, and preparatory activities such as fundraising, scheduling, location, and timetable for the completion of reflective assessments. The module and the workshop are designed following Biggs (2005) principle of constructive alignment, so that all aspects of learning processes and outcomes relate. Students develop skills through experiential learning, demonstrating praxis, “the physical embodiment of connections made across diverse bodies of educational theories and research literature” (Gogia, 2016, p30).
The workshop involves learning using ukuleles, percussion instruments, and voices. Participants experience (through fun and sound) the physical and mental challenges of learning and coming together to form a coherent, effective network. The group begins by learning a Polish folk song. Layers of complexity are added as participants are guided in groups to choose and create differentiated parts before forming an orchestra. People experience peer learning and the challenges of communication when working across different media. Bringing together separate lines allows participants to enact and experience network creation. Individually, they are the often-invisible yet essential contributions and resources, yet are inextricably connected to one another, as in Downes’ connectivism (2017).
After playing, groups choose topics from prompts, discuss, and then feed back to the leaders. Student presenters contribute with their experiences and perspectives.
Discussion prompts include:
- How skill development prepares for on-going open learning
- What risks/benefits are there to teachers/students by opening learning experiences and processes?
- Has experiencing the student learning perspective changed your outlook as teacher/designer of education/learning materials?
- How can you translate this experience to working in other media, for example online?
Biggs, J. (2005). Aligning teaching for constructing learning. Higher Education Academy Discussion Paper.
Downes, S. (2017). Toward personal learning. National Research Council Canada.
Gogia, L. P. (2016). Documenting Student Connectivity and Use of Digital Annotation Devices in Virginia Commonwealth University Connected Courses: An Assessment Toolkit for Digital Pedagogies in Higher Education. Virginia Commonwealth University.
Ritchie, L. (2017). California dreaming. London: Effic Research Limited.