Knowing More About Less

Nicholas Miller is attributed with having said, “an expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.”  Do you the weight of that quote?  I seem to understand it more and more as the years go on but it also seems to explain difference between a master teacher and knowledgeable instructor, focused solely on discipline and not the art/craft/science of teaching. 

Last week was an absolute thrill for me.  It was the Institute for Inter-Connected Education’s inaugural Summer Leadership Academy.  It was filled with excellent learning experiences and memorable quotes.  But my favorite quote of the week was from an Associate Provost who said, “I sometimes forget that I still have so much to learn…”

For three days we assembled and talked through administrative issues, design thinking, teaching and learning problems, technology uses, communication, conflict, and all things surrounding connectedness!  We talked about how to take better notes (see figure at left) based on neuroscientist S Carroll's work.  We ate great food, had great conversations, and created frames out of mechanics. As the facilitator of some veterans as well as some newbies to the higher education landscape, it was both exhausting but also invigorating!

These people also came to work!  They showed up ready to learn and strategize and implement.  And learn they did!  (We ALL did…)  We talked through how to take innovation from idea to implementation, we discussed how to fail intelligently, and networks were created to support everything from faculty development to strategic considerations about First Year Experience courses.  Using Make It Stick (Brown, Roediger, McDaniel, 2015), dovetailed with a cultural innovation and change framework, we worked problems, identified better frameworks, and created intentional success platforms, with pragmatic implementations ready for the day everyone returned back to the office. 

I wasn’t kidding when I said it was thrilling. 

What’s even more exciting to me is the movement that started last week.  This group of teachers, administrators, instructional designers, and education technologists are now on the pathway to spread the word, train others, and influence change in very real ways.  They are now “e”vangelists for culture, strengths, communication, innovation, learning, and so much more. 


For those of you creating workshops of your own, we found some amazing benefits to practicing what we preach.  This is a major differentiator for the Institute, actually leveraging brain science, learning research, and more as we learn and contextualize.  We utilized the most effective practices from cognitive science, persuasion, and perception strategies in each session.  From Interleaving to pattern finding to intentional creation of norepinephrine / dopamine / endorphin moments, we saw the power behind these learning frameworks.  Participants had the opportunity to review and reflect often.  Attendees also networked like crazy, establishing a community of practice that will follow them home.  In other words, I am confident in saying that we all learned.  I am also confident that learning will stick. 

Why?  Because we know what it takes to make it so.  It’s just that most workshops, seminars, or training experiences tell participants to do things one way, while doing them quite differently during the workshop, seminar, or training!  But we didn’t.  And it worked. 

But if you don’t believe me, see for yourself.  Later this week, I will post the reflection from the group.  They all wrote it together, starting it here in Denver but continuing on in a shared Google doc.  You’ll get to see what I’m talking about first hand.

I hope you will consider joining us for our next (half-day) workshop prior to Educause in October, 2018.  Some of these students will have become Institute Fellows and may even be around to help facilitate the kind of experience they just had.  So, whether you are an administrator, an instructor, an IT professional, a staff member, a veteran, a newbie, or any combination of these, I hope you’ll consider spending half a day with us before the conference.  I guarantee you will go home with ideas to try the next day, the following week, and a list for years to come. 

Good luck and good learning.