BC instructors get the class out of the classroom

The Greeens Project is part of Bellevue College’s involvement in Washington Center for Undergraduate Education’s the curriculum for the Bioregion initiative. The college was awarded a seed grant to initiate faculty and curriculum development and sent a team to the Sustainability Across the Curriculum Summer Seminar in July 2008 to design the Greeens Project. This summer institute brings sustainability back to campus and in our education.

At one of the first Greeens Project seminars, Wednesday April 15, Michael Hanson a BC botany instructor and Michael Meyer a BC English instructor spoke at a brown bag seminar to encourage and discuss new learning motives based off the Greeen Project.

Michael Meyer believes that teaching is a revolutionary act, his classes are focused on the themes of community, consumerism, sustainability and animal rights. Dr. Michael Hanson is interested in cooperative speciation and symbiotic interactions, especially domestication of humans by plants and animals.

The seminar was designated to focus on setting a learning foundation through the basics of writing and learning in the field. The discussion opened with the question, “What is field learning?” said Hanson. The answer to this question was put together by multiple attempts, and concluded in being, ‘studying in the natural environment of the subject, outside of the classroom, and outside from being under the microscope,’ said Meyer, based off the audience responses.

He explains how instructors need to branch away from their comfort zones, and get the students to do the same. This is followed by examples such as class field trips, assignments that require the students to go to a certain type of location and report back, and so on. Meyer believes that to, “hit extremes and to get major results one must go against their comfort zone; sticking to controlled environments sticks to basic results.”

“If you don’t see it, it puts you in a state of denial, if you do field work its real it’s immediate and interesting, anyone can tell you a story but only if you lived the experience will you believe and understand every detail,” Jeremiah Hinton, BC student.

Hanson explains how they Leadership class did a presentation or project as their final, such as last year’s South Asian Fashion show. He believes that doing the project leaded the students to become a part of the leadership role, instead of just reporting the facts they were there experiencing it, and that led to getting the bigger picture learned.

“The words that you read you can now see, touch, and taste,” said Hanson. “I really remember when our class went out on the trail and we were able to touch and taste, even being told that a certain plant tasted awful, here I was able to find out for myself, and it did taste horrible, I remember all the details of that hands-on experience,” said Hinton. Another, BC student, Deanna Groshong agrees with this statement, “those experiences change a quality of your writing; it’s a life style change.” Meyer explains how in his writing class those that write about something they read shows in their writing style compared to those that write about something they lived and are reliving as they write about it.

The Envision and Nurture Sustainablity senimar was just a start of a hopeful new movement on campus to encourage instructors to get the students out for the classroom and learn in the field from their own experiences, leading to a new type of learning from the “teacher talk, student listen” approach.

When discussing the BC online classes the advantages and disadvantages of the learning curve experience was drawn between the seminar attendees. “Applied learning always has a great impact, students can’t have this in online classes, we need them to get out of the house and away from the computer screen,” said Susan Johnston, office assistant in the department of computer programs.

The pro of online classes was discussed from ((Jerry Benc))? By discussing that the online classes allow delayed conversations. “The introverts that won’t speak up in a classroom, have the time to become comfortable and put in their part, this leads to a much richer conversation, in the classroom too many students won’t talk if put on the spot.”

The new GREEENS PROJECT is here at Bellevue College and is growing to get instructors and students aware of a more engaging learning foundation. To experience what the books have written in them through the students eyes. To facilitate a future GREEENS Brown Bag seminar or to contribute to the GREEENS PROJECT at BC contact the Center for Liberal Arts.