No one person should be pinned down with only one descriptive noun, but with Lourdes Sosa, this word easily imposes itself: excitement. It is partly due to her physical presence – always smiling, big eyes transfixing, musical voice launching straight into a bubbling word-torrent. A word-torrent filled with very cool concepts: disruption; creative destruction; discontinuities; radical change. Lourdes joined the LSE in 2013 and soon came to us in Learning Technology and Innovation (LTI) with an exciting proposal, could we help her use technology to upset her teaching? Yes of course we could! The idea seemed wildly important. The idea was certainly exciting enough to warrant an application for one of our LTI grants (LTIG).
Teaching on innovation, Lourdes devised an immersive experience for her students to show how technology can disrupt markets. She used a range of technologies to create this immersion; the disruption to her students’ education was their educational experience. To avoid preconceived conclusions, students needed to be oblivious to the change of format. There would be no rehearsing of the technology beforehand with the students, no warning of the students, no back-up plans “in case it didn’t work out”. The point was not to orchestrate a particular chaos, but to provide a disruption. The title she gave to her LTIG project is indeed a litle misleading: ‘assessing the disruptive effect of the internet on education’. It might suggest that we were trying to simulate an online learning experience, but that was never the intention (and would have been a false simulation!). The point was always to create a disruption, with technology, in and of the classroom.
As Lourdes put it in her LTIG application, this was a chance to ‘devise a radically new and different teaching experience’..
On the day, the effect was that of beautiful (and exciting) chaos. Nothing seemed to “work” if you looked at it from a technological, operational point of view. In reality the hour passed exactly as Lourdes had hoped for: an immersive student experience of disruption, and the disruption of something that was of great value to the students: their learning. Although Lourdes has since refined her method, the basic principle of ‘dropping the students in it’ remains in place.
The students in turn reacted overwhelmingly positive, one going as far as running after Lourdes to say how amazing they had found it. A common complaint was that this session was simply too short, that it needs to be expanded. Which of course isn’t a complaint at all but further proof that students loved being taught the concept of disruption through… disruption.
What Lourdes Did & Does:
Lourdes teaches on various courses, e.g. on Innovation for GMiM, and for TRIUM. These are the steps that turned her session into ‘beautiful chaos’:
- Apply for an LTI Grant
- Teach the necessary theoretical concepts in the first hour, traditionally (i.e. face-to-face)
- Surprise students by not coming back after the first break but instead have them watch a pre-recorded short video on the lecture hall screen
- Then greet & speak to them via livestream, and solicit their contributions via twitter
- Relay their twitter suggestions back to them via live stream
- Allow them to vote on various ideas with ResponseWare
- Set students to work on an exercise based on a tweeted handout > go back to the classroom > Students photograph and tweet their results > Debrief.