Last night I completed my second evening of Mindlab study towards the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning). Even though it’s early days, some positive, dare I say brilliant trends are already emerging.
Another observable trend is that when all individuals in a classroom are willing and participatory, learning can be not only very authentic but also very fast and collaborative. As far as I know, everyone doing this course is doing so voluntarily and as a result, are attending because they want themselves and their students to be more engaged, empowered and immersed in more legitimate and transferable learning. Such an existence reinforces how useful a learning space and context can be when there are no “resistors” and personal blocks to learning. On reflection, it does make me realise just how influential one “nay-sayer” can be. Even though the majority prevails in the end, unnecessary time, resource and often good-will can be lost. The buzz in the Mindlab sessions ( 4 hours long) that prevails throughout the entire evening is in part due to the quality of the presenters and the learning but also just as importantly, the agency and voice given to us the “students.” When one feels valued and included, it is only natural that one exponentially contributes and engages more and more.
There is the old cliche “Variety is the spice of life.” In my Mindlab class, the variety extends to gender, age, ethnicity and digital experience, confidence and capability. Personally, I’m fairly au fait with GAFE but a pretty solid novice regarding the Apple ecosystem. It was therefore of great personal learning benefit for my group to complete our in-class video on Self-Regulation using a colleague’s iphone and the app iMovie. Usually, I use wevideo on my phone, and it was fascinating to see the similarities and arguably more important the distinct differences between two tools that effectively exist to produce similar outcomes. What was also even better for my learning and the wider group’s was that we run into rather serious issues trying to upload our masterpiece to the Mindlab portal. Problem-solving was on, a range of options was considered, tried and discounted (much to our dismay!) and in the end, we did achieve publication via hard-to-find but simple fix. Despite inherent time pressure, the group stayed united in this period of despair and worked consistently trying to problem-solve. In the end, arguably we learnt more in this instance from our difficulties than if we had achieved a simple upload. That can wait until next time!
It was also brilliant that the group I was in was a virtual United Nations of a group. We had a South African-born New Zealand citizen, An Englishman, An Indian female teacher and a born and bred New Zealand male. Adding to the variety, two were from Secondary; two were Primary. This diversity provided great learning and when faced with the task-at-hand, not only did we have our own personal perspectives but we also had the opportunity to share our unique professional perspectives at the same time. In this light, the in-class activity was necessary but in my opinion just, as important was the sharing through the melting-pot discussions and promotions that took place. On reflection about those above on our day-time classrooms, the evening’s engagement and collaboration only sought to reinforce the diversity of student populations and the need for educators to enable as much of an individual's experiences to exist and contribute towards the collaborative learning space. To this end once again, what is being learnt remains relevant but so does how the education is being received and the degree of personalisation and ownership in the context.
In closing, the Mindlab study is unique, and I can now say that from the inside. Having spent in total ten years (on and off) engaged in tertiary study, this is the first time a learning space (in this case good old B Block Open Area, need a more modern name!), learning over teaching, producing over consumption and collaboration over silo-engagement are overwhelmingly present. Flipped classroom as well, this course is flipping awesome!