This is an attempt to describe my own personal philosophy of teaching, highlighting the aspects that resonate most strongly with me.
Ultimately I believe that learning should be a rewarding experience. It won’t always be fun, it almost certainly won’t always be easy, but it should always result in a feeling of satisfaction. When you reflect on the experience, you should be glad that you have engaged in it and it should engender a clear sense of having achieved certain valuable personal goals.
I believe that adults, in general, learn best when they know something is relevant and potentially useful for them. They get excited when they come across something that solves a problem or that genuinely intrigues them. It can become even more exciting when they describe a change in mindset by experiencing learning that challenges their way of thinking and results in change in attitudes and behaviour.
When it comes to teaching about integrating technology into teaching practice, I believe that three aspects are critical: in my opinion, there needs to be an experiential element that facilitates hands-on practice/experience with technology, there needs to be a social constructive element that facilitates pooling of experience and knowledge, and there needs to be a reflective element that facilitates consideration of the bigger picture. I try to facilitate that by designing learning experiences that capture all three elements in the learning activities and assessments. I want people to be able to make changes to their teaching in the short, medium and long term. I want them to learn about and tinker with new approaches, discuss them with their peers, evaluate them critically, and be able to do that all beyond the confines of the course. Ultimately, I want them to be confident and competent about making changes to their teaching practice for the benefit of student learning. That is my fundamental teaching goal – and I would hope is the goal of those I teach.
What values do I impart to my students? That’s difficult to answer. Because humour is important to me, I try to have fun and embrace opportunities for laughter. Because I admire creativity, I try to build in opportunities for students to experiment and try new things out. Because community matters to me, I try to foster an environment where students can easily talk to and learn from each other. I teach courses on online and technology-enhanced learning and I think authenticity is paramount. To my mind, there is little point in so called ‘sit-n-get’ professional development courses as a means of significantly enhancing one’s online teaching skills. The only way to truly learn about online teaching is to be an online learner so offering an authentic learning experience is of paramount importance.