Facilitator Spotlight: Arianna Montero-Colbert

After a successful fall 2016 as Communications Fellow, Arianna returned this year as a Course Facilitator in Technology for Knowledge Management. Arianna is not only an online educator, but also a rising junior-and-a-half at Davidson College. We sat down to ask her a few questions.

Q: What first interested you in working with the TechChange team in 2016?

It was a late night as a nerdy high schooler, conducting topic analysis on the Lincoln Douglas debate resolution, “Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory”, when I first discovered the magic of online learning. After hours of skimming dense law briefs and literature reviews with little luck, I finally encountered a MOOC on Democracy and Governance which turned my world upside down.

Ever since, I’ve been both intrigued by the way that online learning can make education on niche topics (or education from fresh perspectives) accessible and eager to find ways to contribute to the edtech space. TechChange was the perfect fit.

Q: What’s it like engaging the TechChange community on a daily basis?

I couldn’t imagine a more amazing experience if you asked me to. I’ve learned so much from the participants’ discussions, from the questions folks ask, from the network of guest experts TechChange brings into their courses. I have always felt most comfortable in discussion-based, three-way learning models, and every day in the TechChange community I come home chewing on something new.

Q: In January 2017, you wrote a blog post on A People’s Education on the World Wide Web. How has your background in educational development in social movements influenced your work?

Aside from the wisdom from my big, bizarre family, grassroots organizers have taught me everything I know. I’ve learned that it’s always appropriate to take a second, stop, and ask yourself, “who am I doing this for?”. If you can’t easily explain to yourself how what you’re doing tangibly helps the people you’re supposedly serving, it’s probably time to change course. You’d be surprised how often that simple check in makes a difference.

Q: What would your TED talk be about?

Without question, group dynamics. I am invested in the processes of rapport, empathy, and community building, and the ways this study can help us make the spaces that we host more accessible and interactive for all types of people. The talk would probably draw heavily on the discipline of Knowledge Management, specifically how KM makes explicit the informal practices of networking and learning that can hinder transparency in organizations. Naming where key information is siloed is one of the first steps to creating a unified team.

What’s next for you after this summer at TechChange?

Finishing my degree. I started working at TechChange during a gap year from college. Needless to say, I’m a big believer in gap years, gap semesters, gap however-long-you-need. In my experience, the four year higher education model assumes a dichotomy between life experience and courses. A lifelong, experiential learner recognizes the fallacy and finds the time for courses whenever it fits best in their journey.


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