Monday, November 13, 2017

Our job = bringing out the best in others and helping them become lovers of learning

I shared the following remarks at the 2017 AECT leaership luncheon. I was embarrassed at the various honors bestowed me at AECT 2017, and I could have mentioned many others who have done much more than me to bring out the best in others, including among others who helped bring out some of the best in me: Bob Gagné, Dave Merrill, Bob Tennyson, Dave Jonassen, Norbert Seel, Pak Atwi Suparman, Ibu Tian Belwati, Leo Yam, Youqun Ren, Joost Lowyck, Pål Davidsen, Scott Newcomb, Walt Davis, Ed Allaire, Stuart Spicker, O. K. Bouwsma, Phil Harris, Barbara Lockee, Bob Doyle, and so many others. So many others.
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AECT 2017 - Notes for luncheon - J. Michael Spector
Five Guiding Principles for AECT Leaders (IPOCR – helps to have an unpronounceable acronym)
1.      Inclusion – To ensure sustainable growth and remain relevant, the principle of inclusion involves welcoming a diverse group of people and broadening membership to include all those associated or concerned with improving learning, instruction and performance; this includes academics, practitioners, researchers, developers, policy makers, parents, students, community leaders, industry leaders, technology innovators, and those left behind on the side of the information superhighway.
2.      Pragmatism – To remain grounded in the effective use of technology in support of learning and instruction, it is important to prioritize evidence over advocacy and to ensure that productive impact on learning and instruction guides efforts.
3.      Openness – Communication among members and association leaders needs to be open to all in a fluid, two-way manner - listening and responding and respecting multiple divergent perspectives.
4.      Collaboration – Fostering effective collaboration among members and with schools, universities and other associations should be regular and ongoing.
5.      Research – AECT members have a reputation for developing and publishing excellent research; this principle is aimed at promoting research that builds effective theories, that guides effective practice, and that informs progressive and productive policies.

Five Ideas to Move the Field Forward (LLECH – careful not to let your imagination run wild)
To be honest, my ideas are not nearly as insightful as those of a few of my mentors:
1.      Learning (thanks go to Robert M. Gagné) – the mission and our guiding purpose is to help people learn – all people, young and old, all kinds of things, in and out of school, wherever they happen to be or whoever they want to become or whatever they want to understand. The goal is not to advance one’s career.
2.      Limitations (thanks go to Oets Kolk Bouwsma) – learning and education are complex enterprises and may not conform to one’s expectations or the limits of one’s imagination; simple or swift solutions to complex problems are seldom effective.
3.      Earthbound (thanks go to M. David Merrill) – people learn what they do; telling is not adequate to support learning (except in the form of formative feedback) – tell, ask, show, do! Are you providing timely and informative and constructive feedback to your learners?
4.      Change (thanks go to Robert A. Zimmerman) – the future is uncertain and may be quite different from what one imagines; how will you change? Can you make a difference in support of learning and instruction? I have tried but claim no significant success. “May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.”
5.      Humanity (thanks go to Rabbi Joseph Spector) – people have two remarkable abilities – namely, the ability to create internal representations of the things they experience that are new or puzzling and the ability to talk to others about those representations (mental models) which are not directly observable. My father, often said that we have a responsibility to bring out the best in people. The best is sometimes buried deep inside those internal representations. What can be learned from the remarkable interior life of such persons as Franz Jäggerstätter (see Gordon Zahn’s In Solitary Witness - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_J%C3%A4gerst%C3%A4tter).

I close with a remark about becoming a lifelong learner. When does it occur – becoming a lifelong learner? Late in life or early in life? Why does it occur – to be able to stay employed and find a good job or ??? Is becoming a lifelong learner about becoming famous or finding gainful employment? Becoming a lifelong learner is about becoming a lover of learning. And that love most typically begins early in one’s upbringing. But it takes time and requires nurturing … our job according to Gagné is to help people learn … my minor modification to that advice is this: our job is to help people become lovers of learning. This does not mean telling someone what to learn or why they should learn something. It involves supporting learners in becoming reflective, insightful, inquisitive beings – i.e., in becoming more human.

As Spock might have said: Learn long and help others along the way.


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