IPT Seminar Sept 18th: Dr. Andrew Gibbons

IPT Seminar

This post is connected with IPT 690, a graduate seminar course in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University.

I know that I am a little late in reporting on this, but I wanted to give some thoughts on Dr. Gibbon’s seminar from Sep 18th.  In this seminar, he discussed some research that he had been doing on developing a new mentor-based model of a LMS.  I was pretty intrigued by this, not because I have a particular interest in mentoring, but rather because I have been doing some research with Jon Mott recently about an idea for a more open iteration of an LMS.

In the seminar, Dr. Gibbons referenced a quote from Cecil Samuelsen (president of BYU) which advocated for more mentorship opportunities among the student body.  This led into a discussion about a need for more group work and collaboration among undergraduate students, and how faculty need to try to push their students towards knowledge production. This is definitely something that I have been thinking about a lot in the past few weeks.  It seems as though the predominant paradigm of education right now is based on an “Acquisition Metaphor” (Sfard 1998).  Our students come to school to gain the information necessary to jump through a series of hoops and get out of school quickly so they can move on with their lives.  (For some reason I have this image of American Ninja Warrior popping into my head)  What is difficult about this, is that I think that employers are increasingly looking for not just degrees, but innovative thinking, for knowledge production.  If a student is going to be simply satisfied with a degree, we may continue to have the issues that we face in terms of the employment of our college graduates.  If we can shift the paradigm, and instead get our students to view school as an opportunity to participate in the knowledge creation process we will undoubtedly have stronger students and stronger college as a whole.

To foster a part of this, Dr. Gibbons proposes an idea for a mentor-based LMS system (you can find a summary of their research here) wherein students enter into contracts with mentors and roles are changed drastically from what we have seen in the traditional LMS.   Speaking of this, roles seem to be a major issue in the current implementation of the LMS. The current roles are inflexible and additionally reinforce power relationships in the classes. I would like a redesign that makes these roles more egalitarian, and I think that Gibbons and Chapman may be onto something in this regard.

Overall, I would love to talk with them more about their thoughts for a more ideal LMS because it is definitely something that I have been thinking about a lot these days.

So what are your thoughts?  How would you like to see mentoring implemented in a Learning Management System?  How can we encourage our students to be creators of knowledge?