Reading Response – Learning to Listen

On Friday, 12 August 2016, Sean Michael Morris gave one of two closing keynotes at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute held at the University of Mary Washington. The title of the talk was Not Enough Voices and can be found at – .

There are a number of thoughts that Mr. Morris shared that intrigued me, including his insistence that we need to get away from the idea that learning is about one person standing at a podium telling the students what they need to learn.  It is instead much more about each person in the class, including the instructor, learning to listen to the many voices and how by listening, we can start to create real knowledge.

As he said, “I do my best to stay quiet because when I’m quiet, I can hear you. And it’s you I’m interested in. Your stories. Your efforts. Your insights.”

And this learning to listen also pertains to online instructors, instructional designers, and educators as a whole.  He laments the emphasis that is placed on quantifying, measuring, and structuring learning.  As he says, “…quantifying learning — that thing that administrations want us to do and for which so many functions of the LMS exist — depends on right answers. And right answers are based on recall of content.”

It is recall of content from the instructor, or material the instructor provides, that earns the approval of administrators.  Students regurgitating the facts and numbers and ideas.  Not creating ideas on their own.

According to Morris, it is the listening to multiple voices where true learning occurs.

“The answer doesn’t lie in turn-taking, but in changing what it means to speak. Make speaking a collaborative event. Join your voice with the voice of students. Join your voice with the voice of other teachers. Join your voice — and this one is really essential if we’re to make any headway — join your voice with the voices of educational technology”.

As an Instructional Designer and an Educational Technologist, it is incumbent upon me to find ways to share the voices in the class.  Measuring is appropriate in it’s place, but I must not make measurements the goal of the class.  Instead, I need to identify when and where real education occurs, and make those learning moments my goal.

One thought on “Reading Response – Learning to Listen

  1. Thank you David for sharing this reading which I found very interesting and helpful to educators.
    We teachers ought to be aware of the fact that like Sean Michael Morris states: “Instructional design generally assumes that all students are duplicates of one another. ” This is like the one size fits all teaching methods we all needs to shun. The truth of the matter is that the students, not matter what the subject is, are not the same. They all come to class with different backgrounds, with their individual funds of knowledge. We teachers should be able to bring the students to be active participants in the acquisition of knowledge, and not simply passive recipients of knowledge imparted by a teacher in front of the class. With digital storytelling, every learner is given an opportunity to actively participate, every student has a chance to talk about something that is meaningful to them.


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