Teach Feast: Engaged Learning Through Internships, Badges, e-Portfolios, & Storytelling



Teach Feast 2015: integrative tools for engagement at Michigan http://www.slideshare.net/umhealthscienceslibraries/teach-feast-2015-integrative-tools-for-engagement-at-michigan

I was invited as a last minute fill-in to be part of a panel at the annual Teach Feast festival of learning technologies at the University of Michigan. It was a great learning experience for me, and I hope also for the participants. I learned more about how engaged learning can be a continuum, incorporating relatively small or subtle changes to traditional instruction or going whole hog and literally uprooting a student from their culture and context and positioning them in a new space for a different type of learning experience. Engagement can originate with either student or teacher (or both); it can be collaborative and/or competitive and/or creative. The one part that seemed foundational to all the strategies was reflection, turning your gaze both inward and outward.

My part was on digital storytelling. I’m a big fan of digital storytelling, in case you didn’t know. I like to test new online storytelling tools, and see how they work to support different kinds of stories. My current fascination with comics is based out of my larger enthusiasm for storytelling. I argue that storytelling is part of every academic discipline. It’s obvious that the humanities dissolve if you remove stories. What is history without story? But when it comes to the sciences, people are more likely to have trouble seeing the story as part of the academic process. Of course, case studies in health care, sure, those are stories. And psychology and psychiatry, they don’t work without stories. Social work, yeah, of course. But physics? And engineering? Maybe if you aren’t in the field you have trouble seeing the story, but if you really think about every research paper, every structured abstract is a frame for a story. Every piece of science has a backstory, a motivation, a reason someone wanted to know THIS. Even mathematics. Even when camouflaged, the stories of science are implied. What changes isn’t the presence of the story, but how we tell them, and the tools we use to carry them.

The advantages of digital storytelling are similar to those of printed stories: portable, inclusive, persistent, and reaching a broader audience. One of the great lessons from education is that communication is never one-size-fits-all. The more ways you present important content, the more people will be able to understand it and engage with it. The greater the variety of media you use to tell a story, the more people will hear it. I’m happy to help people find and tell stories, especially science stories. There are a lot of different types of tools and resources in the slides. If I have time, I’ll spend a little more time on specific ones here some other time. If there is something in particular from the slides that you’d like me to talk about, say so in the comments, and I’ll make it a priority.

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