Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Non-Stem Based Real World Scenarios: The "Sanctuary Scenario"

In the previous post I suggested to you that not all real world scenarios need to be STEM based scenarios. There are a wealth of alternatives that capitalize on realms of knowledge and expertise to realistically deal with real world issues. Although I am suggesting that these scenarios are not specifically STEM based, it does not mean that we can not draw on scientific disciplines when needed. The thrust of the these scenarios are social-political- economic in nature.
What these scenarios have in common are the following:
  • They emphasize the collaboration among students in which the instructor as a guide in the scenario has the ability to introduce variables into the scenario that will require the students to re-think their ideas, conclusions and actions.
  • They also strive to measure the higher order thinking skills as outlined by Bloom's revised taxonomy but also look at the measure of online collaboration and evaluate solutions that students come up with in terms of demonstrated innovation.
  • They also make use of a mentor network based upon the idea that the solutions that students come up with require cross disciplinary thinking. Disciplines that are represented in the mentor network depend upon the requirements of the scenario. This requires that the scenario be analyzed to determine what knowledge and skill sets are required in order to come up with a viable solution to the issue.
  • Whenever possible, full use of an online immersive environment germane to the scenario complete with the ability to have students role play with the use of avatars should be employed.
  • Recognition from the outside world for student efforts through the posting to a professional online journal germane to the scenario is necessary so that students feel that what they are doing is valued outside the course.

Coming back to the scenario mentioned in the previous post, the desire expressed by Ali and probably many more like him who live in countries in conflict, is to have a generation that is not born into an environment in ongoing crisis where children are taught from the time they can walk to fight, identify enemies and even kill. Instead the desire is to have sanctuary, peace and form friendships with others unlike themselves, to hope and dream of growing up and having the opportunity to change conditions for the better.

For this scenario, the collaborative challenge is this: " Students are to come up with workable pathways to peace for the collection of nations that they are members of. In this challenge, they will be randomly assigned two nations that are in conflict. In the" sanctuary immersive environment" they enter, they will have access to all the necessary data on the nations that are needed. Their teacher will act as a the person who will coordinate their networking with the mentor group and give them feedback on changes occurring in these nations that might have an impact on the decisions they make. Students will be required to collaborate in gathering information among themselves and with their mentor network. They will be required to defend the solutions and decisions they make before their teacher and the mentor group.

The mentor group will be made up leaders in the following disciplines:

  • Ancient and Modern Middle Eastern History
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Ancient and Modern Cartography
  • Ancient and Modern Linguistics
  • International Diplomacy
  • Ancient Systems of Governance
  • Ancient Religions
This list is a suggestion and in its description there is a hypothesis to be tested, that being, that the root of the conflicts that are occurring in the Middle East now is found in the history of the nations involved. By examining the roots, the students can identify the ongoing causes of the present conflicts and postulate, with the guidance of their mentors and teacher, points of possible resolution.

When students present their solution, a computer simulation will extrapolate the effects that might result if their decisions were put into effect. For example, a decision to have a tyrant of one country imprisoned could result in a neighboring country seizing the opportunity to invade as one effect. The mentor group will and should have a role in the assessment of the final solutions that the students come up with. The mentor group also provides the opportunity for students to post their solution to a professional blog or online professional journal for feedback and questions.

There is much more that could be done with this scenario. What I have presented to you are the broad strokes in order to provoke your thoughts and discussion.

Next Post-------Promoting a new mindset for the design of online courses

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