“After jump” picture in Mesa Verde National Park, Arizona

When I started the ONL191 journey in February, I posted a picture of me jumping in the Anza-Borrego desert (California) as the image for my blog posting. Jumping pictures have become a requirement of my travel pictures since a few years back, and I thought about posting another, but instead this one is “after jump.” You can still observe the scenery: this is Mesa Verde National Park in Arizona, where ancient Pueblo Indians established cliff dwellings in crevices of the canyons. This was part of a recent vacation road trip that allowed me to happily ignore emails and news headlines.

After two weeks of camping, returning to civilization was both rewarding (hot showers! soft beds!) and depressing (meetings! conferences! writing a syllabus!). Being now a co-facilitator for ONL192 is a nice counterbalance to the onslaught of routine coming my way. It has become my modus operandi to pile up as much work as possible in the fall, when shorter days and longer nights make it easier to be in front of the computer, and leave springtime for conferences and traveling.

Reading interesting articles was part of my catching-up with civilization, and a deep analysis of the two recent Boeing 737-Max tragedies was one that made me think about education. In fact, I had a great conversation with two faculty colleagues about how it related to our struggles of assessing student learning, particularly critical thinking. Please note that I understand the issue is very complicated, and there are a lot of social-economical-technological factors in play. My and my colleagues’ reflection was around expert and novice knowledge, problem solving, critical thinking, and how to promote it in students. And one of the things we discussed was the importance of process versus result.

Since ONL191 I have become more sensitive to the process of learning and decision making. The weekly meetings around the PBL topic brought multiple perspectives, some of which had not even occurred to me. It was humbling and exciting at the same time. A group of us at my university are currently involved in developing a grant proposal to address equity in STEM education, and I brought in some ONL tools, including the brainstorming document and the color codes. The tools are helpful, although I sometimes wish for more of “what” and less of “how” at this stage.

The author of the above article refers to “airmanship” as a visceral sense of navigation and a deep understanding of the forces governing flying an airplane. This knowledge, of course, is not magical- it comes from experience, both in normal and abnormal situations. Much has been written about the difference between novice and expert knowledge, and how to promote the transition from one to the other. And part of it is to transmit the need to learn the process and not only try to remember/guess the right answer.

So as I head into ONL192, I intend to explore even more the “science of the process,” the deliberative group work to tease aside complex situations, looking at it from multiple perspectives, over several iterations of thought and discussions. As a participant, I could observe the quiet work of facilitators, indeed, facilitating the process. As a co-facilitator now, I am eager to see the other side. But I do “trust the process.”

It is Saturday afternoon here in California, and I know this posting was a bit of this and a bit of that (no references!), but I hope my readers will forgive me. Still in transition to the real world!

A nice view of the mountains near Silverton, Colorado.