LRNT 513 – Learning Journal: Cultural Perspectives of Transactional & Transformational Leadership. Entry #2

 

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My Observations:

During Assignment #2, I explored various cultural influences that impacted leadership, such as values, beliefs and perceptions of leadership. I discovered these influences from a transactional leadership lens versus a transformational leadership perspective.

My Reflection:

During my discovery, I identified the differences between Transactional and Transformational Leadership Theories and found relevance in these approaches within my day-to-day working experiences. Discovering these theories through systems thinking and complexity allowed me to relate direct and indirect consequences that arise when making work related decisions that may affect cultural factors. Discovering these theories allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of coping with complexity from a management perspective and coping with change through a leadership perspective. Peter Senge (n.d.) states that “Leadership is the capacity of a human community to shape its future. People who believe they can shape their future are passionately engaged”. If leadership is disconnected from cultures and communities, systems can become fragmented. It is beneficial to gain insights from people who have different views and perspectives in order to develop, adopt and apply alternate behaviours and approaches through triangulation. Senge (1990), identifies this concept as ‘collective intelligence’. “The concept of smart is not about individual learning, it is collective intelligence that produces value and change for social, economical and ecological well-being” (Senge, n.d.).

Not being able to see the connection between systems archetypes and our actions can lead to consequences which invoke an unintentional cultural reaction to the consequence. This form of systems ignorance is the result of failing to see the bigger picture, which causes us to react with our own self-interest in mind.

Resources:

Senge, (n.d.) What Makes A Great Leaders? YouTube [Video] Retrived from https://youtu.be/1aYaj2-GZqk?list=PLBRuTleUYDwrY3P7Zh92GcMvZ3TI8bLyP

Senge, Peter M. (1990, revised 2006) The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization New York: Doubleday Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=b0XHUvs_iBkC&pg=PA69&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

LRNT 513 — Learning Journal: Who Are Our leaders. Entry #1

 

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Overview:

During week one of our Leadership Learning and Technology course we discussed who we regarded as respected leaders. We explored our perceptions of leadership by submitting a short list of 10 respected leaders that came to mind during a synchronous session with our professor.

What I Observed:

Our lists of leaders were then posted in a forum and were open for discussion. The list included a variety of leaders based on faith, politics, celebrity, community, cultural, gender based and philanthropy. As a group, students commented and reflected on the common perceptions of leadership among the group.

My Reflections:

I reflected on potential unconscious biases that may have played a role in the selection of the posted leaders. Many students reflected on the factors of gender, age, culture, environment, location, personal beliefs and media may have played a role in the selection of the listed leaders.

Through my lens, the common thread discovered in leadership among the cohort was that many students believed that leaders were agents of change. The consensus was that leaders possessed influence over their following by creating awareness of a problem and providing a solution that usually appealed to various human factors. Kotter, (2001) explains that in regards to leadership, “achieving a vision requires motivation and inspiring—despite major obstacles—by appealing to basic but often untapped human needs, values and emotions” (p.86). Some other noted key perspectives of leadership found within the weekly discussion forum were:

  • Respected leaders took ownership and responsibility of their vision for change.
  • Their vision is usually rooted in their personal beliefs and experiences within their environment/community.
  • They inspire innovation for change and advocate collective knowledge building.
  • Influence others to take on leadership roles.
  • Make decisions on what is morally right for the sake of the group, based on personal beliefs.

Yuki, (2012) states that “Leaders use change-oriented behaviours to increase innovation, collective learning, and adaptation to external changes. Specific component behavior include advocating change, articulating an inspiring vision, encouraging innovation, and encouraging collective learning” (p.72).

Through my personal reflection, the leaders which I respect are ones that inspire individuals and groups through their work to make an impact on society and culture within their community. I believe I have unconscious biases that affected my choices of respected leaders. Some of the leaders on my list came to mind because they’ve made an impact or influence on my life because I share similar interests, philosophy, passions and beliefs as they do. Through their work, words and acts, I have made connections with the listed leaders as they inspire me to think differently and find comfort in being my authentic self. These leaders continuously stand up for what they believe in although it may go against status quo. Their ability to lead others is grounded in their passion and purpose and not for the results of their work. Whether it is to lead others to get involved in philanthropy or innovating technology that pushes our culture and design thinking forward in the 21st century, these leaders inspire me everyday to stand confident in my beliefs and vision while inspiring others to be their best at all times.

Review:

After reflecting on the weekly discussions and readings, It appears that the cohorts choices of respected leaders were chosen based on similarity of human factors, which makes it easier for our brains to rationalize. These factors that contributed to the selection of their respected leaders were unconsciously biased based on age, gender, personal beliefs or profession. Initially, the respected leaders that I chose were listed for these reasons as well. In addition to being agents of change, what I respect most about some of the leaders on my list are that they acknowledge the contributions of their team while inspiring their supporters and followers to become more confident, and prepared to make an impact on society and culture within their community and become leaders in their own way.

Insights from Resources:

Kotter, (2001) explains that in regards to leadership, “achieving a vision requires motivation and inspiring—despite major obstacles—by appealing to basic but often untapped human needs, values and emotions” (p.86).

Yuki, (2012) states that “Leaders use change-oriented behaviours to increase innovation, collective learning, and adaptation to external changes. Specific component behaviours include advocating change, articulating an inspiring vision, encouraging innovation, and encouraging collective learning” (p.72).

References

Kotter, J.P. (2001). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85-96.

Yukl, G. (2012). Effective leadership behavior: What we know and what questions need more attention.  Academy of Management Perspectives, 26(4), 66-85.

My Philosophy: Teaching & Learning In An Online Environment

(Video clip retrieved from YouTube. My Philosophy, Boogie Down Productions.)

I teach in Technicolor; meaning, I use a mixture of visuals, multimedia, and metaphors to tell meaningful stories that relate to my students’ prior learning experiences. At present moment, I consider my role as a facilitator of learning to be a hybrid between coach and co-learner (Bull, 2013). As stated by Schönwetter, Sokal, Friesen, and Taylor (2002), I recognize that the dynamics of teaching and learning are subject to change; and so too will my future teaching philosophy. One aspect that will always remain true, is recognizing the context of the learner. I am cognizant and empathetic towards students who face personal barriers and hardships. I make a conscience effort to become aware of student’s academic needs and learning styles. My aim as an online teacher and facilitator is to be one who is adaptive in teaching and learning practices. Although my students perceive me as the subject of knowledge and experience, I continually strive to develop new perspectives and concepts surrounding the subjects that I teach. I believe that creating an effective online learning environment must develop learner–learner interactions through communication, collaboration, cooperation and community.

Building an Online Community

I believe creating a positive learning environment through social constructive collaboration is important in building an online community. Nurturing connections between student–student and student–teacher can assist in creating a network that helps the learner achieve their academic goals. According to Anderson (2008), “Students can work together in an online learning context to collaboratively create new knowledge.” Recently, a group of my peers and I conducted a week-long online facilitation. We discussed the topic of Instructor and Social Presence in an online learning environment. Our goal to was to enhance online community building by creating a positive learning environment where communication methods could be explored through various forms of multimedia. As a group, we decided to task members of our online community with discussing topics using any form of multimedia that made them feel comfortable. Students in our cohort chose to record their discussion using video, while others chose audio and animated slideshows to communicate their thoughts. These tasks allowed students to explore new technology while facing personal barriers of communication through the use of multimedia. Wilson (1996) refers to a positive learning environment as being a ‘setting’ or a ‘space’ wherein the learner acts, using tools and devices, collecting and interpreting information, and interacting perhaps with others (p.4).

Online Learning Activities

During the week, we observed valuable connections and interactions being made. We concluded that the discussions among our cohort took on a life of their own through peer-to-peer facilitation. One student provided verbal feedback stating “This was a fun task, which took me out of my comfort zone but I liked it! As I got more comfortable, I learned more about the cohort and myself. I feel more connected to the cohort because of it” (Anonymous, personal communication, February 18, 2016). In a study conducted by Correia and Davis, as stated in Baran and Correia, (2009) they found that peer facilitation, as opposed to instructor facilitation, in online discussions was the most popular collaboration design preferred by online learners. Students found peer-facilitated discussions more meaningful and interactive and felt their contributions created a strong sense of community (p.342). Creating a learner-centred environment—that nurtures social constructive collaboration—allowed students to gain confidence and inspired others to contribute to the learning community.

“This was a fun task, which took me out of my comfort zone but I liked it! As I got more comfortable, I learned more about the cohort and myself. I feel more connected to the cohort because of it”
— Anonymous

I truly believe that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the education process. Harlow, Cummings and Aberasturi (2007) state that according to Piaget, people construct knowledge from their interactions with their environment. As I approach my tenth year teaching in media studies, my approach to facilitating and learning in an online environment is to continue fostering constructive collaboration amongst students with the use of technology. Advancing their online socialization skills through e-tivities will allow students to build a basis of their own micro-community (Salmon, n.d.). To transfer my philosophy into an online environment, I would use a variety of techniques such as group discussions using Blackboard’s forums and blogs, video tutorials, social media, self and peer-analysis questionnaires and other online collaboration activities that allow students to build a strong online community.

References

Anderson, T. (2008). Toward a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds), Theory and practice of online learning (pp. 45-74). Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University.

Brindley, J., Blaschke, L., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning,10(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271

Bernard Bull, E. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/eight-roles-of-an-effective-online-teacher/

Dieter J. Schönwetter , Laura Sokal , Marcia Friesen & K. Lynn Taylor (2002) Teaching philosophies reconsidered:A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements, International Journal for Academic Development, 7:1, 83-97, DOI: 10.1080/13601440210156501

Evrim Baran & Ana‐Paula Correia (2009) Student‐led facilitation strategies in online discussions, Distance Education, 30:3, 339-361, DOI: 10.1080/01587910903236510

Gilly Salmon,. (n.d.). Five Stage Model . Retrieved from http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Harlow , Cummings & Aberasturi (2007) Karl Popper and Jean Piaget: A rationale for constructivism, The Educational Forum, 71:1, 41-48, DOI: 10.1080/00131720608984566

Wilson, B. G. (Ed.). (1996). Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design. Educational Technology Publications. Englewood Cliffs NJ. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/ZxKIWX

The Right to Education: Quality Impacts Opportunity.

Sometimes my mind wanders and I tend to think critically about what messages are being delivered through media, educational institutions and society as a whole. I may read too deeply into things at times and wonder what the intended agenda behind the messages really are. I’ve always thought deeply about what ‘The Right to Education’ really means. I would presume that most people agree that everyone has the right to an education but what level of quality does that education provide? What is the cost of the education and how accessible is the education that we agree should be obtainable for all? These questions all depend on how a person defines the words ‘right’ and ‘education’. How would you define the terms accessible or affordable? What does quality of education mean to you? We all define these terms differently, so the phrase means different things to different people based on their understanding and experience.

Defining Education.

On a broad scale, education can be defined as “all activities, which a person or group transfers information to its descendants as a body of knowledge and skills to enable a person or group to subsist” (Beiter, 2005). Hmm, that sounds like a pretty general definition. However, that last word in the quote is what really intrigues me. Subsist. Subsist could also have varying definitions; depending on who you ask. The Merriam-Websters dictionary defines subsist as “to maintain or support oneself, especially at a minimal level.” A minimal level? Okay, this is where my mind starts to read deeper into things and I start to ask myself a series of questions.

  • Does the right to education mean that people have the right to a minimal level of education?
  • How does this definition and the use of the term minimal impact the quality of education?
  • What rights are included in a minimal education?
  • At what point does a minimal education commence?
  • Assuming that a minimal level education consists of K–12 education levels, how does one support oneself with a minimal level of education in a world that demands a higher level of education to succeed and support ones life or the lives of their families?
  • If the goal behind the right to education is to provide a minimal level of education for all; are there standards that a minimal education adhere to?
  • Does a minimal level of education allow a person to obtain a good quality of life beyond educating themselves?
  • What does ‘quality of life’ mean?… See how my mind wanders?

My Redefinition.

Denzel Washington — The Great Debaters.

The Right to Education—in my opinion—should be one that is inclusive, equal in scope, accessible, and prepares a person to progress beyond a “minimal level” of education. I believe that the right to education should not have limitations. I would hope that most people agree that a minimal education does not go very far in the competitive landscape that we currently live in. The right to education should not simply include teaching children how to read, write and do arithmetic based on low standardized checklists. Don’t get me wrong, the fundamentals are necessary. However, in the 21st century, I have experienced students who are expected or assumed to be intellectually advanced—by way of their birth date (Millennials)—yet they possess an inconsistent quality of learning of these foundational skills. They may also be assessed differently. It is a shame that not all students experience reading, writing and mathematics with equal quality. However, there are many other fundamentals of learning that students experience poorly or not at all. If we accept providing people with a minimal education, this means that we accept the quality of education to be minimal as well. How can we expect people to succeed in the current world if their educational experiences are of lesser quality than the demands made by higher levels of education? If a minimal level of education is not granted at an equal level of quality then the right to education will prohibit people from pursuing higher education; and shouldn’t people be granted the right to higher education as well?

The Right to Education in the 21st century.

I may not be able to provide students with financial accessibility for their educational path but I can redefine what the right to education includes in my classroom. I believe everyone should be given the right to a quality education that prepares them to pursue their passion and potential. Students should have the right to think freely, objectively and critically about the messages and information delivered to them and how they apply to their lives and the lives of others. I’ve met many students in my 10 short years of teaching at the post-secondary level and I have to say that I’ve seen many students arrive in my classroom incredible talents and abilities. Most of them come into my class with different levels of education and experiences. Even those who presume their education is of equal standing find out that there are differences in how they experienced the “same” education offered to their peers. I am also aware of the many incredible students that I have not met or those who had to leave my classes that may have excelled at the post-secondary level but were not afforded or granted the same opportunities and quality of education as other students; for whatever reasons. As an educator, professor, teacher, facilitator, mentor… whatever category I fit in, no matter what level of education I provide, I will always strive to nurture and provide students with a quality education that is inclusive and prepares them to reach their potential with meaning and fulfilment.

Idris Elba — Speech on Diversity.

 

References

Beiter, Klaus Dieter (2005). The Protection of the Right to Education by International Law. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. p. 19. ISBN 90-04-14704-7.

The Role & Use of Music in Teaching & Learning.

Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities. Music can be used to stimulate right brain thinking through various brain-wave frequencies that may trigger different stages and responses. Within my experiences; teaching mostly creative and visual arts, students tend to use mostly right-brain activities such as media, imagery and music to process information. As referenced in Berk, Jordain, 1997; Polk and Kertesz, 1993 state that the brains right hemisphere utilizes nonverbal and creative activities that reflect emotional and subjective relationships between them. With the addition of media, music can also offer a way for students to generate knowledge through the aid of visual elements such as animations, illustrations, colour and live characters; similar to the Sesame Street effect (Berk, 2008).

Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities.

Within this short video (6:00), I have selected four clips that use melody, rhythmic patterns, pitch, and volume to stimulate brain-wave frequencies that can affect right brain thinking when learning and teaching.

References

Berk, R. A. (2008). Use of technology and music to improve learning. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from: http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/NES_Publications/2008_12Berk_13012_1.pdf