Iterating toward … what exactly?

One year ago, I was still settling into my brand-new position as Faculty Director of Online Education at MiraCosta. I dabbled with POT(Cert) last year and my first POTCert post was full of questions that I think I now have answers for. Of course, many of those answers are, “it depends,” “we’re not sure” or “you tell us.” I feel more comfortable with the ambiguity, more aware of where the immediate opportunities exist to make a difference, and also more settled with taking a long view when it comes to being part of significant institutional change/growth. And aren’t all of those things part of life as an educator?

If I begin to think I have it all figured out – whether it’s content, pedagogy, students, technology, my institution, my colleagues – I probably am becoming a bit stale. Thus my blog’s title and tagline – Education Everywhere: life = growth = learning = change.  For me, the fundamental excitement of online education is that it offers an opportunity to rethink the conceptual (not just physical) boundaries that come to us with time- and place-bound education. And rethink not just once, but continually.

Thus the concept of iteration – as Wikipedia says, “the act of repeating a process usually with the aim of approaching a desired goal or target or result.” So what might that goal/target/result be for an educator? Clearly, student learning is at the top of the list. But even that raises questions: learning what? And how do we know if learning occurs? And how do we find a link between our process (course design & teaching) and that learning?  And so we think about more specific aims … which then adds a further iterative aspect to what it means to be an online instructor.

David Wiley’s blog is called iterating toward openness; he is a key leader in improving education through development and use of open educational resources. What I like about this is his goal is really a principle. It is not a concrete, black-and-white target. Measurable outcomes are often thought of as destinations, with broader principles as guideposts/roadmaps, but I think it’s the other way around.

So, to wrap up this introduction of myself for Potcert 12 … what drives me? What am I “iterating toward”? As an educator, leader, manager, coach, and parent, my ultimate hope is to co-create an environment in which people thrive: that is, they find safety, health, and respect; they discover connection and meaning; they express caring, creativity, and joy. Is there a way to express that more succinctly? I look forward to elaborating (iterating) on this theme in the weeks to come …