Learning in Public

You can view the continued installments here: Day 3, Day 6.

It’s been said and discussed often here and many places that a real shift for educators is moving from teacher to learner. Not so much moving, we still need teachers, expertise matters but until we see ourselves as learners and intentionally show are students we can’t be the educator our students need us to be. The Learning Project

I have been following Dean Shareski‘s recent drive to learn guitar as part of his work with preservice teachers in Saskatchewan, and thought I would extend my support of his Learning Project into my own instruction (of guitar) by making it a goal to learn to play the Pearl Jam song, “Daughter.

My students are working toward a performance next week, and as a challenge to them to use their class time until them to make the best performance possible, I vowed to work out the rhythm and intricacies of a song that – for the moment – is beyond my grasp as a musician, and plan to document my progress (and presentation) here, and on Youtube.

As it is pretty serendipitous that he is doing it at the exact same time, I’m amending this post to include reference to Alan Levine’s efforts to share his journey in learning how to play the harmonica. Alan points to four things he admires about the process Dean kicked off:

  • As a teacher, he is doing the same project he is asking his students to do. I cannot say how powerful this is, it is the thing Jim Groom has done all along in his digital storytelling courses (even before ds106) and was something I always respected Barbara Ganley for doing when she was teaching writing at Middlebury College. This changes the entire student/teacher dynamic.
  • Learning is happening in public. Dean is showing the example of examining what he is doing by putting it out in public. Not the final project, but the process. This ought to happen all the time.
  • The network is providing People are responding to his posts with suggestions, resources. etc.
  • Narrate the process doing this in video makes you reflect to an audience, but more importantly yourself. As you progress, the videos should chart your progress (can someone say “assessment”?)

Thanks to  @DrGarcia for connecting the dots and helping the learning continue.

6 thoughts on “Learning in Public

  1. I just commented on Alan’s blog here http://cogdogblog.com/2011/10/10/blues-harp-learning-project/ re: you teaching him to play harmonica via video.

    I’m digging the momentum this local trend of learning in public is gathering. You have moved from the ephemeral of practice and performance on #ds106radio to documenting the process and sharing. It takes a good deal of courage and humility to make such a move. Much respect.


  2. On the first day of school, one of my students said, in front of the class, “but, teachers don’t make mistakes” after I had made some sort of error while teaching. It was a ‘stop’ moment (see Applebaum) for me. After my momentary pause, with multiple thoughts on how best to address her comment, I replied by saying that I make mistakes all the time, in fact, it’s one of my specialties, and I asked her to pay attention to that in our class this year.

    It’s great to see you modeling yourself as a learner! It’s wonderful for students to see that teachers can learn new things, and, that when we do, we struggle, and make mistakes, and get that fleeting look of frustration on our faces when we know we’re messing something up. It’s makes us vulnerable, human, and so much easier to connect with, understand, and learn from. Good luck, I’m interested to see how you do with learning that very challenging song!

  3. I don’t make mistakes in class.

    No, that’s a lie. I make mistakes all the time. But this idea of learning in public is new to me. I may have to get on board with that myself, and get my guitar skills up to par. I know how to play three songs: “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls, “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, and “Teach your Children” by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. But I’d like to be skilled enough to know a couple of dozen songs, and have musical skills be part of my repertoire in class. Learning some songs from early America would be a great way to do that. Hmmm.

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