Everything is Subjective: A “Timely” #Rhizo15 post for Week 1
#Rhizo15 could not have come at a better time for me and this week 1 prompt really resonated. This is the first week of my “new life” as I like to call it because my administrative contract post ended last Friday. I now find myself with a lot of time on my hands as I have moved from a 35hr 9-5ish position to contract work (on top of my twice of week teaching). Though I have grading to complete, research and blogging to do, and a conference paper that I am editing to be presented at the end of the month, #Rhizo15 is ironically allowing me to put some order in disorder, by providing a space to partake in more disorder; let me explain…
When Dave (@davecormier) challenged us to reflect on our “learning subjectives” for this course it echoed what I have been doing this week in my own practice. When I get up I no longer seem to have “objectives” but more like “subjectives” for the day. I know that whatever I do not finish or tie up in a day can be pushed to the next because I now have the luxury (or punishment) of time. And that is what I think rests at the heart of learning subjectives—time.
As someone who cringes when I see an improperly written learning outcome (eg. with random non-measurable verbs like “understand” or two verbs in the same outcome) I can however, still see the importance of making the big leap to a subjective space. I teach English literature so one of the biggest refrains I hear from students is that grading in English is “subjective.” I usually propose grade descriptors at the beginning of the term as a way of demonstrating (in the biggest most nebulous box as I can) what the different levels of writing look like. I know there is much debate about grading and pedagogy but this is not the purpose of this post. The purpose in mentioning this is that this idea of subjectivity or learning subjectives is something that seems to necessarily inform my field of study. These grade descriptors have something innate to them, and that is the ability for change. And that is the other intersection that is important to learning subjectives—change.
When I was completing my doctorate at Western a student gave me this mug at the end of the semester to remind me of “all I had done for her” (her words). I drink coffee from this mug when I need to remember a few things: one that creating those connections in teaching is important, and two change is important, nay necessary. I think the learning subjectives for any course or learning experience live and move along two axis, time and change. Like so:
That little teeny tiny dot at the beginning of the line, that’s your learning objective. The line which spreads out into infinity, that’s your learning subjectives. Learning objectives and learning outcomes are always about what one can do or accomplish in a set time and are always predicated on no change at all. Learning subjectives live in that smooth space (woot D&G) and are always there alongside learning objectives but are sadly ignored (willingly or unwillingly). The structure/architecture of Higher Ed today seems to box out learning subjectives and hone in on that one node, that one point (because we like deliverables, woot?).
This is where instructional design is so important. Holistic instructional design sees everything, does not hone in on that one learning outcome node but rather opens the space up to non-linear organic learning, like #rhizo15. Design allows learners to seek, aggregate, and curate what is important/necessary to them, apply that to whatever learning outcome is required of them, and then horde and disseminate the rest for future use (I’m actually surprising myself at how hunter gatherer this is turning out as I am writing it). So seemingly in the face of a lack of design (like #rhizo15 seems to be on the surface but really @davecormier is so meta he doesn’t even realize it) we all move from learning objectives to learning subjectives simultaneously.
So my learning subjective(s) is really just this: interact with as many people as possible (in whatever form that may be) and pull in as much information and knowledge (in whatever form that may look like) even beyond the chronological confines of this course (yay #rhizo14). How subjective is that?