Tuesday, December 03, 2013

DET/CHE: The Art & Science of Education

Town plan of Imola
Town plan of Imola (Wikipedia)

I am at the Directors of Education Technology and California Higher Education conference in San Jose this week (DET/CHE). This is my first time here and I am presenting on MOOCs, eLearning, and Instructional Design. I am excited about the location. We are in downtown San Jose which has the Tech Museum right across from the San Jose Museum of Art. Interestingly enough, the Tech Museum is looking more like an art museum (Fritjof Capra spoke there recently on Leonardo Da Vinci) and the art museum is running an exhibit called "The Genius of Everyday Things." And this is how it should be. There is a long history of art and science working and playing together. It is only in the last few centuries when specializations and their theoretical baggage seem to have separated the two in academia. I like the Merriam-Webster definition of Art: "something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings." That should at least also be the definition of instructional design if not education itself. I have a number of postings to this blog on art because art talks about how we see and experience the world and is about expressing our connection to it. Education is an opportunity to erase those artificial boundaries and to acknowledge that we experience the world with all of our senses and not just the ones for writing papers. Like Art (with a capital "a") education is also an opportunity think about how we see and experience the world and navigating our connections to the people and ideas around us. It is not an accident that George Siemens sees the role of the teacher to be a curator and "sense-maker" rather than a subject matter expert or funnel. (See p.15 of Siemens' "Learning and Knowing in Networks.")

The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San ...
The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose; the white line in the sky is an airliner on approach to San Jose International Airport during the exposure time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Tech Museum is running a program on the movie Star Wars which really has nothing to do with actual technology. It has everything to do with how artists imagine technology. And if Star Wars was not a great story, no one would care. You would never see a tech museum do a presentation on "Plan 9 from Outer Space." It was the art of Star Wars that fired the imagination.

Lets tear down those walls. If you are here at this conference, I think it would be worthwhile to take the time to visit the art museum. I would love to see the three organizations (DET/CHE, Tech Museum, and the Art Museum) coordinate a presentation someday!
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