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Welcome to the second In Beta newsletter. First up, thank you for subscribing; it was great to get so much positive feedback on Twitter and in person; we really appreciate the support. Secondly, there's a little bit of newsletter-related housekeeping we need you to do. Considering how popular the first newsletter was, we've moved it into an actual mailing list rather than just having a different kind of post on the website. This shouldn't affect anything moving forward but has meant a small re-design of the site, which remains a work in progress. In addition, you may want to check your profile information and ensure that your details weren't mangled in the transfer (for some reason, this link only seems to work on a laptop/desktop). And thirdly, some email clients are likely to be blocking images in the newsletter. This isn't a big deal since it still makes sense without the pictures but if you like the visuals you may want to allow image downloading for these emails. In Gmail, you can click on the "Display images" link at the top of this email.

We hope that you enjoy this selection of three things that we thought were interesting.

Teaching in Higher Ed: Critical Open Pedagogy

Quote from the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast on Critical Open Pedagogy
In this episode of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast series, Bonni Stachowiak speaks to Rajiv Jhangiani on the topic of Critical Open Pedagogy. Not only is this a great episode to listen to but the show notes include a ton of links to additional resources if you really want to dig deep into the ideas presented in the show.

"It’s difficult when we leave it to the marginalized to always have to advocate for themselves."

Link to the podcast:

Via Ben Ellis (@bendotellis).

The experience of strangeness in medical education

Curzon-Hobson, A. (2017). The experience of strangeness in education: Camus, Jean-Baptiste Clamence and the little ease. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(3), 264–272.

This article is a challenging read but well worth it for the insights into different ways of thinking about education and identity. I find that, for me, there are two kinds of articles; those present me with information and those that open me up to different ways of thinking. This paper was certainly one of the latter. In particular, I really connected with the idea of teaching as a Sysiphean task; the notion that no matter how hard we try and how long we work at it, it will never be done. On some days we feel like we're almost at a peak, and the next day we're back at the bottom of the mountain trying to figure out what went wrong. As I said, this isn't an easy article to get through but then again, that's the nature of changing how you think.

The care required for strangeness might be at odds with our educational traditions...strangeness is (normally) and immediately exiled because it contradicts the concepts, language and expectations of identity we need and assume for most of our sensible projects including the educational process.

By its very nature, education can bring the absurd to our consciousness; tempting us by the demand to know and make sense, and yet humbling us through the journey itself.

Via Joost van Wijchen (@jowi12).

Threshold concepts

Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training, Professional Development and School Education
Thresholds and new spaces
The idea of threshold concepts emerged from a research project into the possible characteristics of strong teaching and learning environments in the disciplines for undergraduate education. In pursuing this research, it became clear that certain concepts were held to be central to the mastery of their subject. These concepts could be described as ‘threshold’ ones because they have certain features in common.
Threshold concepts are:
  1. Transformative: Once understood, a threshold concept changes the way in which the student views the discipline.
  2. Troublesome: Threshold concepts are likely to be troublesome for the student; knowledge can be troublesome when it is counter-intuitive, alien or seemingly incoherent.
  3. Irreversible: Given their transformative potential, threshold concepts are also likely to be irreversible, i.e. they are difficult to unlearn.
  4. Integrative: Threshold concepts, once learned, are likely to bring together different aspects of the subject that previously did not appear, to the student, to be related.
  5. Bounded: A threshold concept will probably delineate a particular conceptual space, serving a specific and limited purpose.
  6. Discursive: The crossing of a threshold will incorporate an enhanced and extended use of language.
  7. Reconstitutive: May entail a shift in learner subjectivity, which is implied through the transformative and discursive aspects.
  8. Liminality: Mastery of a threshold concept often involves messy journeys back, forth and across conceptual terrain.
See also the physiotherapy-specific section of the resource, with papers by Sarah Baradell, who was featured in the New paradigms in physio education podcast.

Via Ben Ellis (@bendotellis).
"Students do not always enjoy studying with me. Often they find my courses challenge them in ways that are deeply unsettling. This was particularly disturbing to me at the beginning of my teaching career because I wanted to be liked and admired. It took time and experience for me to understand that the rewards of engaged pedagogy might not emerge during a course."

bell hooks (1994, pg. 206)
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