Here’s where the fun starts. When I’m online I often run across some incredibly progressive and inspiring teaching tools and resources, usually through the people I follow on Twitter. (This most often happens when I’m supposed to be doing homework or cleaning my house. Like exactly what is happening this very minute.) Regardless, I intended to take a second class this semester, or to find a research assistantship but nothing materialized for me. What I have found though, is an open source class called Equity Unbound which describes itself as, “an emergent, collaborative curriculum which aims to create equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences across classes, countries and contexts on equity.” I’m grateful I ran across this class and finding it couldn’t be more precisely timed. I honestly miss the pragmatic application of what I learn, like the work I did in my master’s programs. Research is a different animal entirely. I enjoy it immensely but not in the same way. I’ll be participating in this class from here on out and posting on my assignments and reflections of what I’m learning.
It’s August and now is the time for me to recover from stats class and get a few projects done before school starts in a few weeks. That means I’ll share the last section of my literature review. In the meantime, you can save the date on your calendar – in case any of you want drop by Hawaii – to see me speak at the 8th International Conference on Education and Social Justice in Honolulu.
This lit review should now be published on Open Praxis! (It’s not though, but it should be soon. Keep your eyes open for it.) It’s my first published journal article, so it’s very exciting. You can read my blog posts which are an earlier version of the article or the much-refined version all in one place here Vol 10, No 3 (2018) — just kidding, it’s not on their site yet.
This post is the third and last section that I’ve published on my blog and is part of the earliest version of this lit review that I submitted for my class. It took a few turns along the way and is a different paper now than what I started with. In Part I I began with an introduction to education for refugees. In Part II I addressed the importance and benefits of this much neglected aspect of refugee life. Here I discuss online learning and the programs that are the forerunners of this spectacularly innovative way to address education for refugees.
Before we do anything else, I’d like you to do a visualization with me. I’m about to throw a bunch of numbers at you, and I want you to get a sense of what these numbers really mean.
Imagine standing on the fifty-yard line of a football field. Now imagine if that football field were covered in one-dollar bills. How many would it be? According to the Internet, it would be 517, 254. Now multiply that by one hundred and twenty, and you have about how many displaced people there are in the world. That number is not all refugees but because of either civil unrest, environmental disasters or famine, these people have been driven from their homes. That is a lot. And many of these people are not getting their basic needs met.
I recently read an editorial from a college professor titled Why I Won’t Teach Online which details the reasons he would never teach on that particular platform. Overall, he has some good points. He has more weak points, however. The following is my response to his essay.
This seems like a pretty standard argument against change to me. It doesn’t matter what the argument is: the doctor who needs to update her knowledge of nutrition or a hiring manager who needs to adjust his perception of what people with disabilities are capable of doing. Change involves doing things differently, and there are a rare few who embrace the discomfort involved in change.
In an area where the ultimate goal is to help people, it is unfortunate that the refugees who are gaining more attention as subjects of research are not gaining much directly from that research. It is also unfortunate that to see some positive effects from the results of that research can take years, possibly decades. The consequence is that refugees feel taken advantage of and used. This is understandable. I would not like to perpetuate this negativity in my own research. Of course I’m trying to make a positive contribution, and I want to do my best to not create harm on my way to doing some positive work. I’ve chosen to do this by volunteering at a refugee organization in downtown Vancouver called Inland Refugee Society of BC. I’ll be teaching again, which I dearly miss, and I’ll be adding some positivity in this arena.
To give you some background, the following are the first couple of pages of the literature review (a summary of the current studies in the subject) I wrote for my first class. I’ll probably write more about my area of research, so this will build a more complete understanding of this issue. The introduction gives a general view of the current state of refugee situations.
I want to reflect briefly on my first experiences as a PhD student – still can’t believe I’m saying that. The seminar I’m taking in Educational Technology and Learning Design is keeping me busy. I’m working with my supervisor on a research project as well, and those two projects are time consuming and draining. However, I feel like I’m working harder than I have many times in the past, and that feels good.
I still don’t consider myself an overachiever or a particularly hard worker. I think that if SFU found out what my principles are in regards to work, they’d rescind both my scholarship and my place in the program. I feel a bit like I’m working the system. Some PhD students have to take multiple classes as well as teach several. I don’t know how I did it, but I am grateful every day that I have a schedule that works for me, and that I’m doing something I love.
If this PhD thing actually happens, then I think I found the topic of my dissertation. Because of my background and education and educational technology, I already knew I was fascinated by language learning and using technology to support learning in general. But I recently discovered that there is research looking into mindfulness as a way to support the emotional side of learning a language.
I am so intimately connected to the anxiety that accompanies learning a new language because I live with anxiety on a daily basis. This extends, and increases exponentially, to language learning as I’m often in a state of panic when I’m surrounded by speakers of other languages and then I’m expected to perform. It’s already challenging to learn a language for most of us, but adding a layer of underlying anxiety and it can be a painful experience.