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So I presented at a conference recently and my session reaaaaallly didn’t go over well. Why? Well, I think that my stumbling can be ascribed to several factors. But before I get into why I failed – and what I learned from this failure – I want to tell you about my presentation plan. The easiest way to showcase what I thought was going to happen is to plop my conference proposal here. I’ll do that now in this post. In Part 2 two weeks from now (stay tuned!) I’ll tell you about why I think my presentation failed – and why talking about failure to your students and colleagues is critical in our current higher education environment. Ok, so here’s the proposal:

“Doing a Thing and Its Opposite”: Navigating Teaching and Instructional Design in the Postmodern

The purpose of this session is to give attendees a thoughtful space to discuss and ponder the often paradoxical work that we do in colleges and universities. During the first part of the session I’ll present my own lived experience as a professor, faculty development manager, and instructional designer, focusing specifically on the constant tension between accountability, innovation, ethics, and the very real effects of these tensions on the lives of those living and learning in higher ed. My overall guiding questions for this session are: How can we live (well) as higher educators in an environment that asks us to “do a thing and its opposite”? What are the effects of this dual existence?

Inspiration for this his session is based on my observations and notes over 5 years teaching a Freshman Studies course as well as my interactions with clients on instructional design projects in higher education. I’ll discuss my journey through modernism to critical theory to postmodernism and how each of these movements affected my teaching and design practice. In addition, I’ll discuss how these conflicting theoretical orientations affected (and still affect) my relationships with students and my colleagues.

I’ll then transition to a group discussion where audience members can deconstruct their own experiences living in the cracks and fissures between theory and practice. Possible guiding themes during this discussion will include issues surrounding surveillance and data mining in LMS environments and the dual possibility/impossibility of democratic teaching and design. It is my sincere hope that attendees find this conversation nourishing and continue to muse on the in-between educational spaces that we inhabit.

So as you can see I had Grand Visions for my conference presentation. Curious about what happened to complicate my fantasy? Stay tuned for Part 2! Alternately (or in addition) please feel free to post your own theories and stories below in the comments.