Saturday, January 30, 2016

New kid in class: Qualitative research into flipped learning in a higher education context

This is the abstract I have just submitted for BERA (British Educational Research Association) annual conference. What I like most is the missiology that is implicit in this abstract. Are you willing to learn from the new kid?

New kid in class: Qualitative research into flipped learning in a higher education context

Flipped learning, like any new kid in town, finds itself undergoing careful scrutiny. A Review of Flipped Learning (2013) identified the need for further qualitative research, including its potential to engage diverse learners across cultures and subgroups. This paper investigates the impact on learners when flipped learning is introduced into a higher education undergraduate theology topic. Traditionally, theology has privileged Western discourse. Can flipped learning be a useful ally in encouraging globalisation and personalisation?

A 2014 Flinders University Community of Practice research project implemented three pedagogical strategies. These included the introduction of indigenous voices to encourage personalised learning, the use of Blooms Taxonomy to scaffold activities in-class time and digital participation to cultivate the learning culture. These addressed all four pillars (Flexible Environment, Learning Culture, Intentional content, Professional educator) of flipped learning (The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P™, (2014)).

Students completed a four question written survey at the start, middle and end of the topic. The results indicated a significant shift. Students had moved from an initial appreciation of content, to a consideration of how they learn from the diversity inherent among their peers. Students perceived that the changes had enhanced their ability to communicate effectively and expressed a preference for choice, collaboration and diversity. However, feedback from Student Evaluation of Teaching responses, assignments and interaction with students was mixed. While overall people affirmed flipped learning, some expressed a desire to return to traditional lecture modes.

This data can be theorised using the notion of learning as a social act, shaped by learner agency. Preston (“Braided Learning,” 2008) observed that students fill different roles in an on-line learning community. Some act as e-facilitators, others as braiders or accomplished fellows. Each of these roles depend on agency being given to, and received by, fellow learners. Student assignments demonstrated that these roles were present during in class-time and further, that the pedagogical strategies implemented were essential in inviting students into these roles. In contrast, students who expressed concern about flipped learning indicated either a desire to preserve the percieved purity of an objective academic experience or a reluctance to trust student agency.

This suggests that the success of flipped learning depends not on the technological ability to produce videos. Rather it depends on pedagagical strategies, including those that help learners appreciate agency in their peers. In sum, the desire to learn from any new kid in the class remains at the core of the educative experience.

– Dr Steve Taylor, Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Flinders University, South Australia

Flipped Learning Network (2014). The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P™.

Hamdan, Noora, McKnight, Patrick, McKnight, Katherine and Kari M. Arfstrom (2013). A Review of Flipped Learning: A White Paper Based on the Literature Review.”

Preston, C. J. (2008). “Braided Learning: An emerging process observed in e-communities of practice.” International Journal of Web Based Communities 4 (2): 220-43).

Keywords: flipped learning, diversity, higher education

It is a development of work I presented in 2015 at ANZATS and HERGA, but this time with clear focus on flipped learning. I will hear by 11 March if the proposal is accepted. The BERA conference is September 13-15 in Leeds, so might well fit beautifully with the Ecclesiology and Ethnography conference, 6-8 September in Durham and Lines in Sand, 18th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture, 9-11 September in Glasgow. Or it might be a stretch too far. We will see. Good to have an abstract entered and grateful for the time and encouragement of Dr Katy Vigurs in looking over a draft of my abstract.

Posted by steve at 09:54 AM

Friday, January 22, 2016

reading a “settler” (Presbyterian) church missiologically

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand describes itself as a “settler church.” (here). It’s founding story is expressed in the narrative of Scottish and English settlers wanting to build a better world for themselves and their families, followed by post-World War II emigration patterns, as Dutch, European, then Pacific Island and Asian migrants arrived in New Zealand.

This “settler” narrative shapes identity. It can be contrasted with “missionary” beginnings, as in the case of Anglican, Methodist and Catholic denominations in New Zealand. It can be placed in an uneasy tension in relation to engagement with Maori.

I am interested in reading this “settler” narrative missiologically. My hunch is that in the PCANZ history there are some rich cross-cultural insights. I was alerted to this in reading Migrations: Journeys in time and place, by Rod Edmond, a few years ago. Edmond traces his Scottish forbears. One of the stories is of Presbyterian missionary, Charles Murray. Charles comes to NZ after a short period of missionary service on the island of Ambryn, Vanuatu. He then serves as a Presbyterian minister in Carterton (1888-98), Fielding (1898 -1906), Sydenham (1902-1919) and Matawhero (1919-1920). Ferguson writes that “The missionary impulse never deserted Charles.” (Migrations, 193). Evidence includes establishing home mission stations in Fielding, travelling in support of Maori Mission and urban mission in Sydenham. In addition, he continued to write to support the (then) New Hebrides Mission and took a public stand for pacifism during WW1. All of this is in continuity with his cross–cultural experiences. “Throughout his life Charles had worked at the frontiers of the church – the slums of Aberdeen, the Pacific, the new rural towns of the Wairarapa and Manuwatu, a large working-class suburb of Christchurch and now a remote East Coast settlement.” (Migrations, 203). The life of Charles Murray is an example of mission, in particular, cross-cultural mission, shaping this so–called “settler” church, in this case over 32 years in four locations.

My hunch is this gives us some important ways to understand ourselves missiologically today. My interest is two fold. First, I am interesting in finding other such stories and asking how these stories disturb the “settler” narrative. Second, I am interested in considering the missiological shape these stories might give to the unfolding story of the PCANZ today.

Posted by steve at 09:27 AM

Thursday, January 21, 2016

culture and gospel insight


“Maungarongo (pointing to the name). The name of your marae means peace or reconciliation. That word was always here, in our (Maori) language. But the Bible drew it out, made the word visible and grow among us.” – (A comment during one of the speeches, made by a spokesperson for the Maori King, during the Powhiri for the re-opening of Maungarongo Marae, in Ohope.)

A fascinating way to understand culture and gospel. The host culture is respected (That word was always here). The arrival of Christianity is noted (the Bible drew it out). You can’t have gospel without culture. Such is the result of the Word made flesh.

Yet culture with Gospel enriches, causes, in this case, peace and reconciliation to flow. What does it mean for Christians to approach culture looking for what is already there?

Posted by steve at 07:46 PM

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

marae opening

It was an wonderful privilege over the weekend gone to represent KCML at the re-opening of the Maungarongo Marae, in Ohope. The marae is the courtyard of Te Aka Puaho (Glowing vine), the Presbyterian Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. (For the history of the marae, go here).

The re-opening began with an Awakening the Dawn ceremony. Beginning at 4 am, it involved prayer in language, offered by a wide variety of religious groups.


On the way into the marae, you pass some maihi, the carved archway, which for many years was a gift from Te Wanangi a Rangi to KCML. They lived in Dunedin and were a visual reminder to staff and students on a daily basis that there was a Covenant between Te Wanangi a Rangi and KCML. In 2007 these old friends returned here to Ohope.


Seeing them at Ohope is a reminder of the history of bi-culutural training partnership between Te Wanangi a Rangi and KCML which has enriched over so many years.

There is a Maori Proverb

He tangata ke koutou, He tangata ke matou
I roto i teni whare, tatou, tatou e

In English,

You are one people, and We are one people
Yet, within this house, we are one together.

With the marae closed in recent months, we at KCML have been weakened by the distance. Now, with re-opening of the marae, there is a chance for the relationship to be strengthened. In opening the marae, we at KCML brought a koha, a gift.


It is a picture of Knox, painted by the partner of a staff person. We give it to this marae, in the hope that it might live in this house, this marae. In the hole it has left at KCML, we will place a picture of this marae.

We offer this as a prayer that – I roto i teni whare, tatou, tatou e

Posted by steve at 05:56 PM

Thursday, January 14, 2016

3 month anniversary: an emotional and grateful reflection

knox This week marks 3 months since I began as Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. I celebrated the one week milestone with some thoughts and it seems appropriate to repeat the practice.

I returned to work this week and found myself awaking each day profoundly grateful that I’m called to this role, at this time and place. I am so appreciative of the space to innovate, the genuine invitation and repeated expectation that KCML will live into its mission to train the whole people of God. I am excited by the possibilities that have been generated in staff conversation and at a two day staff retreat in December. While these are still embryonic and face many more conversations with key stakeholders, there is a whole host of creative, connective, ideas beginning to take shape. I am grateful for the resources that come with the KCML space. This includes the team, the variety of financial stakeholders, along with the enormous goodwill and generosity I’ve experienced, repeatedly, within the Presbyterian church and the KCML team. Very quickly as a team we have moved into constructive, prayerful, accountable relationships that are a delight to participate in. They are a group joyfully facing a new future.

This is a great role, in a great place. Long may the honeymoon continue 🙂

Posted by steve at 01:56 PM

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Paul: the apostolic team builder

This is certainly consistent with how Paul leads. He is a team builder. Of the 13 letters that claim Pauline authorship in the New Testament, more than half (seven in total) are team efforts. Paul and Sosthenes write 1 Corinthians. Paul and Timothy write 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, while Paul, Silas and Timothy write 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The six letters written by Paul are Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus.

The book of 1 Corinthians is rich in alliances and networks, in which “All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings” (16:20). The letter is co-authored (1:1) and is the result of a report from Chloe’s household (1:11). Paul has baptised Crispus, Gaius (1:14) and the household of Stephanas (1:15). Paul exercises ministry alongside Apollos (3:5), Barnabas (9:6), Timothy (16:10) and Apollos and the brothers (16:12). Paul’s understanding of servant in chapters 3 and 4 is in the plural. The church is a body, with different gifts (12:4). Paul greets the household of Stephanas (16:15) and shares greetings from the churches in Asia, Aquila and Priscilla and their house church (16:19). He is grateful that his ministry has been “resourced managed” by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (“they supplied what was lacking” 16:17). This represents ten individuals, three house churches and three other groupings of churches. This is a connected leader enmeshed in alliances and networks.

(An excerpt from upcoming Built for change: innovation and collaboration in leadership).

Posted by steve at 07:25 AM