I got to spend a whirlwind week with a fellow JIBC colleague @bkiddjibc and @cogdog in Guadalajara this week, so I barely remember the previous week. It was great to introduce both of them to the really fantastic team of people we are working with at the University of Guadalajara, where we are creating a faculty development program for 300 UdeG faculty. I learned that the team we are working with have a mandate of faculty development and accreditation, but they’ve decided it’s important to go much further and are stretching the innovation envelope as well, so this explains their willingness and openness to roll with what we have proposed. The project has evolved substantially from being a semi-open, diploma-like blended experience–we are now creating a completely open, WordPress built, DS106 and Youshow inspired approach to faculty development. Active learning, open, and multimedia facilitated by mobile devices are the key themes from which we are building out a series of hands-on studios and challenges. We benefited a lot from having Alan with us, and one of the big shifts we made was from a more structured, prescribed approach (the result of working at an institution devoted to short course training), to one that is more creative and forces the participants to think more broadly about the topics and tools in relation to their own teaching.
This was a co-development week and we made some good progress on both the platform (WordPress) , the logistics, the schedule, and the topics. The program will begin on July 13 for a week long face to face session involving hands on studios, challenges, and various share/showcase events such as a Demofest and Challenge Idol. We are spending 2 weeks down at UdeG for this part, breaking up the 300 into 150 participants per week. Then we move to 8 weeks of online challenges, where participants have to implement some challenges in their teaching, gathering student feedback and sharing back to the site. We meet F2F again in December for 2/4 days–1 will be an unconference and the other day will be some sort of wrap up.
Alan asked the UdeG folks come up with a metaphor for the site and after some thinking they proposed Agora 21. This fits in well with an idea of open spaces and 21 century skills, and in no time Alan had the landing page and the new name. UdeG IT folks on the team have a pretty great can-do approach, so they are going to set up a WordPress server and the site will be migrated.
We decided that we’ll have a twitter hashtag, and will have them sign up for twitter accounts in advance to make it easier for them to share back to the site. The site will be completely open so we expect to have other non UdeG participants following along as well. While we were down there, we used the UdeG development team to test out a studio that Alan developed to make sure the approach and the topic were in keeping with UdeG’s vision, and whether they felt that the participants would be motivated by the approach. This was a lot of fun, and as Alan noted, participants naturally formed groups or worked individually, and we were all able to share back to the site. We realized a few things needed to be considered in designing these studios: since English is a second language for most, less preamble and verbal instructions are needed, as well more time to figure things out. Some studios will have to be 1.5 hours long, but since each studio will have a minimum of 3 challenge choices, those who finish quickly can do more than one. We are going to make challenges simple in instructions and explicit, and perhaps more narrow in focus, but with different pathways of difficulty since UdeG’s estimate is that approximately 1/3 will be beginners, 1/3 intermediate, and 1/3 will be already quite advanced.
While we were downy there we got to meet @ken_bauer, a fellow Canadian who has been working at the Tec de Monterrey in Guadalajara for the last 20 years. Ken is joining us on the project in a coaching-facilitator role for one of the weeks he is available in July, joining a team of 4 other UdeG coach-facilitators. The coaches will help instructors run studios and provide 1 on 1 support to participants, providing some support in Spanish to help fill in the gaps as well. We got to spend an afternoon with Ken and his delightful wife Aurelia and son Adrien at a restaurant called laTequila, which was about as perfect as it gets.
It was a work hard, play hard kind of a week, made especially delightful by the driver (taxis aren’t as common in Guadalajara) that the University hired for us. Joaquin was determined to make sure we got to appreciate Guadalajara, taking us to a flower festival and taco stand (my request) within an hour of picking us up from the airport. Joaquin was also a much more interesting substitute to a conversational Spanish class, and had an abundance of energy and patience. Guadalajara was good to us and I’m sure there’s more fun ahead.