Dr. Maggie Melo writes for Inside Higher Ed today about the value of video-off time in a virtual classroom and how we might learn from the ease generated by virtual time together-but-apart and apply it in a face-to-face setting.

Dr. Melo concludes:

I want us to question why we have such a persistent desire to “see learning” in a makerspace or classroom. I want us to figuratively and literally turn off the gaze when it’s not needed. As we opt for classrooms and makerspaces that are more inclusive, we should create ways for students to choose how they want to be seen in the classroom.

My son attends a preschool that uses the Reggio Emilia approach. There are a lot of different components to this approach. One of them is documentation. The teachers at his school are constantly photographing the children as they work, posting those photographs around the classroom for the children to see, and writing captions to remind the children of what they were doing. This is not exclusively for assessment purposes. It’s process-focused. The children also take photos, which the teachers share and describe.

Dr. Melo’s piece made me wonder if something like this could be applied in a higher education setting, but placing the choice of how and what is documented on the students. Could you have a shorter class meeting time, giving students the extra solo time to work and document their own process? What if you explicitly asked them to talk about the mistakes they made and what they learned from them, like I do in my blog post about sewing napkins? Does placing this documentation power in the hands of the students allow them to choose how they are seen?

I don’t know.

I just wonder.

Just a note: Dr. Melo was my assistantship supervisor for the final 2 years of my PhD.