Real Life Stories
A Choreography of Team Teaching Technology
I grew up alongside the Internet as opposed to being dumped into it after fifty years of teaching or being born with a smartphone in my hand. I got my first e-mail address was when I was in cegep, and I started using technology as a tool in university. Now as a continuing education student, I’m building on those skills.
I felt we had to do something with intercultural education here. For me Virtual Team Teaching is really all about creating thinkers who are thinking critically and globally.
I’m taking a masters in dance with a specialization in somatic education, which is movement awareness. I’m studying the impact of movement awareness on empathy. Movement awareness is a lot about becoming more efficient whatever your definition of efficient is. I feel that technology can be really efficient compared to more traditional methods in education. I approach physical education, in terms of how I can be the most efficient teacher possible because if I’m really efficient, my students and the school get a lot more out of me.
I’m really interested in intercultural empathy. If you have a different culture than mine, we have a different story. I’m really interested in how empathy works physiologically, and so, I’m fascinated by the use of IT to connect people with people that are very much other. I was at a conference at LCEEQ (Leadership Conference of English Educators of Quebec) where I attended a conference given by Nathan Loewen and Jen Mitchell from Vanier on the Virtual Team Teaching (VTT) project there.
Because humanitarian aid interests me, I worked on the Peace Garden at Dawson College. When I came to John Abbott College, I didn’t plan on getting involved in anything, but after discovering VTT, I felt we had to do something with intercultural education here. For me Virtual Team Teaching is really all about creating thinkers who are thinking critically and globally.
As opposed to teaching a student self-centered awareness, their own little belly-button view of nutrition and how they can create it in their own personal lifestyle, students are virtually gaining an understanding of how a Russian or someone from the Dominican Republic of the same age deals with nutritional issues.
What I’m trying to do with my master’s thesis is to prove that somehow when you move together, you can be more empathetic with each other, which is why sports and peace programs are so efficient all over the world. Not everybody has the luxury to make long distance contact, but if we can encounter another by Skype for free, in an educational setting, I don’t know why we’re not doing it.
If you’re looking at Physical Education 101, we teach Health and Lifestyle, how your lifestyle is affecting your health. Nutritional issues in Canada are completely different from those in Russia or the Dominican Republic. As opposed to teaching a student self-centered awareness, their own little belly-button view of nutrition and how they can create it in their own personal lifestyle, students are virtually gaining an understanding of how a Russian or someone from the Dominican Republic of the same age deals with nutritional issues. Beyond the Nutritional Food Guide, there’s how I can make my nutrition more sustainable and how people in other countries eat more sustainably. What does a student in Sept-Iles in the north of Quebec or Gaspe, who doesn’t have the same nutritional choices, do nutritionally? Food in Sept-Iles is considerably more expensive. If you’re looking at Sept-Iles and you’re looking at Russia, and VTT works with schools there, it’s going to be a whole other world.
This can also be applied to life style issues like activity. If you have chickens and a goat at home and your own garden, you’re just going to be more active every day than a person who goes grocery shopping once a week. Your place in the world has a huge impact on your lifestyle. Your lifestyle can have a huge impact on the world. I feel I can make education more meaningful through live encounters with somebody who’s different and having them tell how they eat, how they live or this is how they exercise. Students can discuss this information in terms of sustainability.
I teach different dance styles, but I teach them all with the one body – mine. My body has a background and a history and a cultural side, so my body can’t teach ballet the way that my Russian teacher teaches ballet, and it can’t teach Argentinian tango the same way that my best friend from Argentina teaches Argentinian tango. Another really interesting part of IT would be to get virtual guest teachers from all over the world in those dance styles, who have a cultural embodiment of the movement, to be projected in my classroom in Montreal.
Students have to see a real body, like a street artist who’s been working in the streets for twenty years, who will move differently than my body and sometimes the only way that this can happen is virtually.
I’ve requested as part of the capital budget that we have projectors and a sound system added into our dance studio, rather than monopolizing the audio-visual equipment available for the entire department. Students have to see a real body, like a street artist who’s been working in the streets for twenty years, who will move differently than my body and sometimes the only way that this can happen is virtually. Therefore, when I teach 101, I use a lot of online media.
Just because I’m ready to use technology, doesn’t mean that everybody else is. People in my department are seeing new methods and perhaps will want to use them. I’m very open to discussing technology with anyone who is interested. Technology makes theory come alive. If teachers recognize that technology can more efficiently help them achieve their course goals, they’ve taken an important first step.