#SquadGoalsNetwork Reflection from Dr. Jessica L. Knott
A reflection by Jessica Knott on the power of personal learning networks.
ACCESS – Does regular access to other individuals from other institutions and institutional perspectives challenge your definition of access and what it means? If so, how?
Access is and should be more than the question “can students find their content.” The definition of access must be broadened to include issues of equity and social justice. Living in mid-Michigan, diverse populations, cultures, and opinions aren’t always easy to come by. They must be sought. It is critical to seek them out. If we don’t, what will challenge our notions of knowledge? How will we find what can be instead of what is? How do we, as a learning culture, amplify voices that aren’t heard – but have ideas that could change our world for the better? Without other perspectives – how do we even know what better is? Because, it is impossible that any of us are the best we can be. Regular interactions with those in contexts different from mine challenge me, and therefore my team, every day.
FACULTY SATISFACTION – How has your participation in the PLN benefitted faculty and colleagues at your home institution?
This is a story we may not tell as clearly as we should at my institution. Since becoming involved with the Squad Goals Network, the learning design and Hub teams have brought a number of professional development frameworks to our local campus. We have drawn from models like the Technology Test Kitchen, the Innovation Lab, the ranger/wayfinding program, and network building to provide faculty and students on campus opportunities to interact with technology and pedagogy in ways that allow them to be vulnerable and supported. It can be hard to say “I don’t know how to do that.” So, by experiencing those models ourselves at onsite conferences, then sharing and modifying them across our networks, we are able to create localized experiences that work for our campus. Sometimes, I worry that the connection between the hustle of participating in the squad goals network and on-campus application is lost because it truly is so seamless.
LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS – When you reflect on your work, how has meeting and learning from individuals from other institutions and institutional perspectives helped you to clarify or re-define what it means for learning to be effective?
I used to be a bit of a lone wolf. I was set in my ideas of what quality learning was, and worked singlemindedly to meet those benchmarks. Now, if I’m working alone it feels wrong. And that’s a good thing. I am more team-focused, less singleminded, and better able to navigate ideas and needs. I listen more. I demand less.
SCALE – Is the PLN scalable and/or replicable by others at other institutions/organizations? If so, how? What challenges do you encounter?
Yes, it absolutely is. The biggest challenge, however, is busy calendars. Sustaining commitment is difficult when things are going well – and in a world of change, it requires purposeful focus to maintain connections. Thankfully, the world of text messages and social media help with those connections. Synchronous and asynchronous options offer opportunity rather than challenge, but scheduling remains tricky.
STUDENT SATISFACTION – Do you feel that your involvement and/or collaboration with the PLN has helped you create better student experiences at at your institution?
Yes, for the reasons stated previously – I believe that challenging ideas across organizational boundaries and roles is crucial, as is involving students and giving them a voice in their learning and the services they receive.