Tag: Faculty Learning Community (Page 1 of 4)

Photograph of the staples holding Keegan's head together

Keegan’s Game Jam

This weekend, there is a 48 hour Game Jam in honor of Keegan Long-Wheeler. As most of you know, Keegan had to have brain surgery a couple of weeks ago to remove a tumor. In order to cheer him up, we wanted to encourage his friends to build games about Keegan, friendship, dealing with illness, or whatever else came to mind.

The Game Jam is a 48-hour window to build a game in Twine and post it to the site (by midnight on Sunday). There is a community forum to chat, ask for help, or share ideas. I would also like to see if we can find a time to meetup online next week to play games and talk.

Keegan and I have been teaching Twine as a game building platform for the last couple of years. We like Twine, because it’s very easy to pick up allowing us to focus our attention on creating interesting choose your own adventure stories. We built an open faculty development program called eXperiencePlay.education to teach faculty about storytelling in the classroom. The hope with this program is that even if faculty don’t embrace game play or gamification of their courses, they’ll rethink the narrative and student choice within the course. If you haven’t made a game before, I’d suggest going to the site and looking through the material there to help you think about game design and storytelling.  

After, we got started with building games, Keegan got in touch with Dan Cox. Dan is one of the leading figures in the Twine community having built numerous Twine tutorials and the Twine cookbook. Thanks to Dan, several of Keegan’s projects and tutorials have now been incorporated into the Twinery’s guides. When I wanted to set up a game jam for Keegan, I reached out to Dan and he put together this site on itch.io, guidelines for the Game Jam, and a set of resources to help everyone out.

So, if you’re a friend of Keegan (if you know me, you probably know and are a friend of Keegan), I hope you’ll join us for our game jam.

Fake News and Fact Checking

Keegan is wrapping up the first week of his Information Literacy Faculty Learning Community as I type.

The FLC, especially for weeks 1 & 2, draws heavily on Mike Caulfield’s work on media and information literacy, especially his recent work around what he calls the ‘Four Moves’ of fact-checking. Mike has built out an challenge bank to test your fact checking at Four Moves and you can delve deeper into his work in his OER textbook Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.

Within the FLC, Keegan is encouraging us to reflect on the material for each week by answering three prompts:

What should we be teaching our students about this topic?

I think there is an overlapping set of skills that can variously be called digital literacy, information literacy, media literacy, civic literacy, etc. There is a lot of overlap within the Venn diagram of these skill groups and there are identifiable pieces and disciplinary histories that help to define and separate each of the sets.

At OU we’ve had an initiative called ‘Writing Across the Curriculum’ in place for several years that tries to get students to write essays in classes across campus, not just English classes. Similarly, I would like to see a ‘Literacy Across the Curriculum’ initiative that emphasizes whichever sets of literacies are most applicable for each course (media literacy for journalism classes or information literacy for library classes, etc.). These skills are naturally part of many classes already, but a concerted effort to emphasize these skills in all (or as close to all as is practical) classes would both introduce and reinforce these real-world, necessary skills for students.

In my role within the Office of Digital Learning, I advocate for and help instructors integrate digital literacy lessons into their classes. Finding information online and vetting that information is a key real-world skill. In my history of science classes, I teach how scientists fought for authority/respectability and their rhetorical strategies for arguing their scientific theories. I want students to understand how to evaluate the trustworthiness of scientific rhetoric, and I think that’s an obvious place to extend the lesson into evaluating the trustworthiness of all rhetoric.

What’s a small change you can make in your course for the benefit of your students?

I really like Mike’s activity bank. I’ve used activity banks in my classes for a while now. I usually set these up as an array of different activities that reinforce the material from class. Students can choose those activities that reinforce the skills and/or content that most interest them in order to exercise those skills and deepen that knowledge. I think I can integrate Mike’s activity bank into my own to encourage students to practice their fact checking and broader digital literacy skills.

Feel free to share any other thoughts or comments you have on this topic:

I’m hopeful that participants in the FLC will integrate some of Mike’s work into their own teaching and courses. When I look around the ecosystem of Digital Literacy education in higher education, Mike’s work stands out as being incredibly timely, important, and practical.

I really like how Keegan has curated the material for this FLC. I know that we’re going to talk about Chris Gilliard’s work on Digital Redlining in the coming weeks. Amy Collier and her team’s Digital Detox project is another very accessible and adaptable entry into the field and served as a model for Keegan’s work.

I’m currently participating in the #engageMOOC and next week I’m leading a graduate student workshop on Digital Identity. My field, educational technology, is in this space right now, and I think that’s significant of the broader cultural awakening towards the threats of Fake News, digital manipulation, and the eroding of truth and trust in society. I’m hopeful that Keegan’s work and the work of all of the participants in his FLC can do at least some good in addressing these issues on our campus. I’d encourage you to participate in the FLC online and think about how to address them in your own work.

Paying the Price

In reading chapter three of Sara Goldrick-Rab’s Paying the Price, I was struck by the deep resentment that the Pell Grant garners. Like every other form of welfare promoting social mobility, the Pell Grant has been weaponized as a redistributive, unearned, golden ticket that allows people to skip to the front of the line while carelessly spending the hard-earned dollars of the working class. Obviously this is a straw man characterization, but I think it accurately echoes the core narrative identified by Arlie Hochschild in her study of Tea Party Republicans.

My habit has long been to dismiss such a characterization as the critique of mean-spirited, irredeemable people, but this is extremely counterproductive. I still don’t agree that we should do away with the Pell Grant or other forms of welfare, but I need to and can do a better job engaging in respectful conversation around this narrative. Until we can find common ground with those who feel left behind and cheated by the system, there can be little progress. As an educator, I need to be able to engage with people and convincingly argue for several fundamental points that I can no longer take for granted:

  1. That the highest quality public education is an inalienable birthright of every person
  2. That public education is an obligation of the government
  3. That government investment in education is economically productive. That is, for every dollar spent, more than a dollar is generated
  4. That a student has a right to maintain dignity while receiving welfare and shouldn’t be asked to pass drug tests or justify food expenses
  5. That teachers should be respected as important contributors to society and paid accordingly
  6. That education is about growth for each student rather than arbitrary standards of proficiency
  7. That education is allowed to be fun and actually works better when it is
  8. That enabling students to flourish requires asking them their goals

These eight headings are not defitive or exclusive. They are simply a managable starting point. If I can effectively articulate these points and engage people on them, we may be able to find common ground on student aide and educational policy more broadly. If not, states like mine may continue to defund education at all levels.

In an editorial in the Oklahoman this morning, OU Provost Kyle Harper provided hard numbers for the relative lack of support for OU from the state:

The University of Connecticut, a public flagship very similar in size to OU, receives about $16,500 per undergraduate student from the state, whereas OU receives around $6,200 per undergraduate from state appropriations. Our tuition and fees are also 22 percent lower, yet we offer an equally high-quality educational experience and achieve nearly equal rates of student retention.

As Kyle notes, “We have been doing a lot with a little,” but we need to reach out to Oklahomans and talk with them about why education is important. We cannot take it for granted that people already want to have the best schools; rather, we have to help restore that esteem for and pride in educational systems.

Through chapter three, Sara Goldrick-Rab has been particularly effective in her treatment of the first four points. Thus far the book seems like a really useful reference for both quantitative and qualitative evidence on the simultaneous importance and insufficiency of student aide. I hope that it will also provide a proscriptive argument for how we can move forward.

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