Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Learning is questioning what I "know" to be "true"

Last week I sat in on my very first doctoral class. During that class I found myself in disagreement with the professor. Thinking back logically on this experience, I know that my professor is "smarter" than me. What I mean by that is that he has progressed further in his educational process than I have. All week I have had difficulty focus on the ideas presented in this class because I believed I had a fundamental disagreement on what education and learning mean.

Today a former colleague and trusted friend posted an article on Facebook. That article backed my professor's position on one issue with which I had found myself in disagreement. However, because of my trust in my colleague, I took the time to read the article and found myself changing my mind on the issue entirely and seeing my professor's point.

Now on one hand I make the observation that this is what doctoral work should do. It should make me question what I "know" to be "true" and provide me with a vehicle for navigating and advancing my progress on my own educational path.

On the other hand, it made me wonder, why does it seem that we are not encouraging students to do this at the undergraduate level? During my EdS program, I took an entire course on how to determine if what I was reading was "good." There were many characteristics that we developed in that course, the one that stands out in my mind is whether the source is a "classic" (as simply defined as possible, a well-accepted and oft-quoted source). Another was to look at who had published the work and if that person/organization had a reputation for carefully publishing well-researched information.

My brain meltdown occurred when I thought about the fact that students (myself included) are more likely to begin research online, where self-publication makes everyone's ideas available and that new information that hasn't yet been canonized is abundant.

So, how do we determine if information is "good" or "bad" and how do we facilitate our students' understanding and critical thinking skills in this area? This has led me to begin developing ideas around this issue.

As a part of one of my doctoral courses, we are developing an Instructional Design Model (based on research by Morrison, Ross, and Kemp (see this link for more information: http://www.quasar.ualberta.ca/edit573/modules/module4.htm).

I'm using this model to attempt to work through the idea of helping student become more critical consumers of information. Skills that I believe become more and more important during the age of Internet research.

I will post my model on this blog as I continue to develop it. I believe dialogue and the exchange of ideas is one of the most important processes of learning. That being said, my question is what do you think? What do you believe? What do you presume to be true?

But how do you know? Who says? Well who is that? Why does what they say matter? Would you interpret their data differently? Did they structure their study to really measure what it should? How do you know? Who says? Well who is that? … ad infinitum …

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