As a brighter followup to the repository folly, I am excited by an event planned next week by a lead faculty member in the Nutrition area at one of our colleges.
As she explained, there are not a large number of faculty in this discipline across of colleges and many of the classroom teachers are adjunct faculty, so as a group, they were interested in creating a collection of sharable teaching resources they could all draw from as needed. “Wow maybe we should build….. nahhh, it already exists!” Luckily, Maureen actually reads the emails I blitz about the Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX). and she was willing and interested to arrange a discipline focused effort to build a collection that would be useful in her field..
So on January 15, a group of these faculty have been invited to lunch and asked to bring on disk electronic versions of materials they might share in the MLX, and as a group, they will post them that day to the MLX. And taking a cue from our inducement/bribery efforts, they have arranged to provide local store gift certificate cards to each contributer in the amount of $5 per MLX item shared (up to $50 total). So we are hoping on that day to really fill up the MLX special collection for Nutrition and the MLX itself should expand.
But even better than this was an email Maureen sent today to the potential participants, where she addresses the issues of sharing, why she sees it as important, a positive shift of perspective on seeing your work used elsewhere, and just how (through a nice metaphor) this could be the gem hidden inside a Chia pet:
Dear Nutrition Colleagues:
Every December my seven sisters, their spouses and children gather for a Christmas party. At the end of the evening we have a high-class white elephant gift exchange for the adults and the cousins who are over 18.
The white elephant package is supposed to be in the $25- $50 range, but some of my sisters and their husbands always exceed the upper limit. Year after year, one brother-in-law packages a Chia Pet, sort of a booby prize, but he always embeds it with a nugget (a gift card of some sort). This year, I packaged a gift from Williams Sonoma valued at about $40; however, by the time the activity was over, I ended up with a $225 Coach purse (compliments of a very generous sister).
Likewise when we begin the MLX Nutrition Repository some of you will be the recipients of some very generous faculty who will likely share some really valuable teaching resources. I have seen some phenomenal PowerPoint presentations during my faculty evaluation visits. I have also seen some great learning resources used both in and out of class. The MLX Nutrition Repository will be sort of like a high-class white elephant exchange! All of us will have adequate new resources to harvest, once we seed the repository. Faculty that will be using your resources will also be contributing their own.
Teaching is founded on the premise that knowledge is to be shared. There is a strong movement in the community college, led by Parker Palmer, educational activist, members of the Carnegie Foundation through their Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement, The Pew Foundation, MIT, and others to bring the act of teaching out of isolation and into the public realm. This means sharing our experiences, knowledge, and resources. Faculty become better teachers and students become better learners when we embrace this idea of sharing our craft.
Last year I was sitting in a computer lab on campus with a few spare moments and looked around for something to read. I came across a syllabus and started reading it. Much to my surprise I discovered all of my original verbiage on success-oriented classrooms. For a brief moment I was indignant thinking “this is my material and further, and there is no attribution to me.” Soon though, my thinking shifted to how I might have influenced someone to adopt the success-oriented classroom philosophy, and I took it as a compliment.
Like me, you may be tempted for a moment to hang on to your resources, but we all know that by sharing with one another, teachers and students both benefit. Someone may think of a derivation of my work that I did not consider and unless I have shared that resource, it won’t become an improved resource. Because your work as the originator is valued, the MLX Nutrition Repository is designed to give you credit and continue giving you credit for any subsequent derivations. What a compliment to you when someone thinks your learning resource is good enough for them to use!
Developing good learning resources take much time. What a great way to maximize your valuable time by dividing up the work. The PEW Course Redesign Program is founded on this idea. They have identified high enrollment, introductory courses taught all over the country in big universities and little colleges. They are researching the most effective and efficient ways to enhance the quality of these courses, and they are sharing the outcomes with the rest of us. Likewise, http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html seeks to advance knowledge and education and serve the world in the 21st century, thus they have published over 500 of their courses on the web, free to anyone. MIT wants to inspire other institutions to openly share their course materials, creating a worldwide web of knowledge that will benefit mankind. Similarly,should FON instructors all over the country or all Maricopa FON teachers reinvent the wheel? That sentiment is the idea behind our MLX Nutrition Repository—warehousing our ideas, examples, and resources to improve learning at Maricopa. Like MIT’s trajectory, it may take a shift in thinking from the traditional academic paradigm, but sharing our course materials will make us better teachers and will produce better learners.
My hope is that when you open the MLX Nutrition Repository after everyone has made their initial deposit on January 15, it will be like a high-class white elephant exchange for you, where you may even come away with better resources than you contributed. Yes, there may be the equivalent of a Chia Pet in the repository, but even then if you look real close, there may be a nugget inside that package.