Creating Beauty Together

flickr photo shared by Infomastern under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Make and share beauty.

How can a learning task capture so much complexity and simplicity? Yet that was our goal. Dr. Walter Stroup of The University of Texas Austin gave us this task when he guest lectured in EDU106 New Literacies: Digital Text and Tools for Lifelong Learning.

The chance to explore what true learning can be has been a goal of our Dean Stephen Hegedus. In these efforts he brought inĀ Dr. Walter Stroup to discuss the limitations of our current testing paradigm and also Dr. Corey Brady. Dr. Stroup was presenting at a colliquim and Dr Brady came to help us rethink our outdated computer lab into a collaborative learning space.

Literacy, Agency, and Beauty

I could not attend Dr. Stroup’s talk as whatever tick borne illness ripping through my system is putting up quite the fight against the battery of antibiotics I am on. Luckily a call went out to have Dr. Stroup guest lecture. I immediately signed up. Not because I could barely stand or talk (that was true) but because I have been a huge fan of his work.

Dr. Stroup explained to my students we were going to do something they had never done before: learn to code in twenty minutes. What he didn’t know is this how every Monday Maker Challenge starts off in edu106.

What I liked was Dr Stroup’s reminder of how our definition of literacies in EDu 106 aligns with Friere. He then introduced us to netlogo (think Papert’s turtle logo) and said go make beauty. We were given twenty minutes to code something without any instruction. We had to try and determine what each command did in the code.

My kind of learning.

After twenty minutes my students had coded a design using Logo. They shared some of their beauty with the world.

Collaborative Learning Space

The next day I attended a session by Dr. Brady. One of the first thing the Dean did when he came to Southern was to rip out or dated and under powered computer lab to build a collaborative learning space. There are four pods with two remote cameras in the room. At each pod there is a monitor display that can be used to show off student work. The instructor can push any computer to the display in one button.

Dr. Brady worked with us on how to use confluence to create a bank of shared lesson plans. I demonstrated some of the wikis I show use in teaching my GitHub repo where I host my classes for people to openly remix.

We spent our two hours together remiing the lesson plans people had created in the first session. We then transitioned to the technical know-how of the collaborative learning space. The pedagogy I got down but we need help with the actual how-to for the technology in the room. Still it was a wonderful conversation.

Dr. Brady worked with faculty who had never linked or used YouTube and who had never edited a wiki before. It was amazing to see how excited people are to learn how we read, write, and participate on the web.

Also published on Medium.

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