Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 8: Conflating One's Metaphorical Survival with Actual Survival

Our Feb 25 class collectively addressed a question about online classes.
What is the reason it seems so difficult to implement online classes at Cal Poly? Is the change that is needed structural or does it just need the right mix of people to make it happen?
Roger quickly lets us know that to answer the question, we have to identify the background conversations going on around the issue.
First, we note that this idea comes up again and again and it always seems that although a fair number of people say, yes, this needs to happen, it never quite does.
Why is it a cyclic event?
Is it just an unproductive "us" and "them" mentality? Is it that faculty can't prioritize this with the few resources devoted to it? Maybe it won't work out well regardless. How can we do it right? Does everyone understand what it takes to do it right?
A discussion of the actual mechanics brings up the idea that preparing for online teaching seems like a complete redesign of a course, and is perhaps not suited for everyone. Maybe that means that somewhere within Cal Poly, there is a presumption about what the best way of learning is. Maybe its a cost-benefit analysis that produces a process that doesn't seem to fit reality. A real question has to be answered. Should faculty be improving their curriculum anyway as part of their job? Or is online development something extra that requires extra time and money devoted to it?
Roger asks what is the fear that keeps this conversation cyclic? What is the structural trap here?
Both the faculty and administrators have a mental model of the role of online classes that looks about the same. Both feel they want to serve students and provide the best education possible, albeit on a budget. The two models have different manifestations depending on your perspective.
First, you could see online classes offering much needed efficiency, which is always attractive. Or you might see it as a way to reduce the number of faculty needed. Is it possible that faculty could be asked to work themselves out of a job?
To address a culture shift, do we need a team or a collaboration? My notes say that changing the container is a collaborative effort. It takes 3-5 years for the university to go through a transformational change such that the structure and culture could be set up for success on this issue. On an individual level it takes about a year, and you can ask Dianne about that.
In the case of the need for cultural change, a technically ideal solution which will still fail for non-technical reasons. Roger says that "you can't shift my reality if you don't change the system."

For some reason Roger suggests we look at the Nina Paley website and watch Sita Sings the Blues. She evidently has an alternative model that we will find out about when we watch the cartoon.

See you Friday, Dianne

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