Watering Holes and Holy Water

In maintaining city street civilization, the White Horse bar and the church-sponsored youth center, different as they undoubtedly are, perform much the same public street civilizing service. (p41)

In a complex system, there is always consideration for scale – a quality at one scale isn’t necessarily a quality at another scale. And ditto for the like of intention. How a community sees, uses, interprets an act isn’t the same as how we see it individually, face-to-face. Different meanings are unveiled depending on the scale, depending on the perspective. Yet, when a part of the same system, some of these qualities or intentions will coincide.

This quote nicely hints at this point: Different people with widely different objectives and outlooks on life can have shared purpose when seen from a macro scale. Such is the same with educators and facilitators – not all need to be experts in the topic at hand.

A collection of facilitators may have different local interests. However, being a collection, they may share a purpose in bringing learners together, creating more opportunities for feedback, and thus more intentional learning.

Institutions often house many faculty members. Why shouldn’t institutions use the collective ability of the faculty to monitor all courses? You don’t need to be an expert in any given field to know how to ask questions that encourage learners. The fact that they’re educators means that they coincide at some (important) level.

Institutions would need to restructure things like expected teacher roles, office hours, and other structural limitations, to make something like this happen though. The amount of feedback for each student would skyrocket, too.

However, as humans, we are always involved in countless complex systems, not only educational ones. This is where many of the problems would lie. Educators often aren’t educators first and foremost, I would guess.

A related question: Can massive courses (or MOOCs) really full-fill their potential with only a handful (at best) of facilitators involved?

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