Engaging students in knowledge production

One of the main benefits, in my mind, of rethinking delivery of a course is the all too rare chance to really evaluate what concepts, outcomes, and learning strategies you are trying to achieve with a course, and then working through the creative process of realizing those achievements.  In my own case, I have a course I have been teaching for years, with the requisite annual tweaks that improved the course, but I had rarely had the chance (or need) to do a complete rethink of the course.  As a result, I have fallen into pitfall #4 – putting plenty of “knowledge” in front of the students, but too rarely really engaging students in the development of that knowledge in their own selves.  Moving to a flipped approach provides an opportunity to really consider what types of learning materials and strategies deeply engage students in knowledge generation, while taking advantage of the expanding capabilities of electronic media.  My course focuses on modeling a range of biological and ecological phenomena, with goals that are both skills-based and concept-based; how to represent systems mathematically, how to understand and represent linkages between system components,  how to discover and anticipate general patterns of behaviors based on underlying systems structures.  This a rich domain for interactive learning, and software tools are perhaps getting close to useful for supporting interactive learning and engagement.  I’m just now started to delve in to some of these tools, and am looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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2 Responses to Engaging students in knowledge production

  1. Anthony says:

    I could not have put this better myself. Probably because we have been learning about flipped classrooms and hybrid approaches these past few weeks, I have almost cringed sometimes during my lectures as I think about how comfortable I’ve become laying knowledge out there for my students to consume. I’ve been meaning to incorporate more cases and other more student-driven learning activities into my courses for awhile now, but the inertia has been too much, but hopefully the journey we’re taking in this course pushes me into new territory that will benefit our students.

  2. Kristen says:

    Your challenge is exciting to me…it seems to be all about finding relationships. The exciting thing is that the more relationships a student can identify/understand, the deeper the learning will go on that particular topic.
    I’m not a tech wiz, but I do have the sense that tech could really be your ally – demonstrating biological and ecological relationships, which abound at all scales…discovering systems structures and the patterns they generate…
    I’d love to take this course!!!

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