Monday, January 10, 2011

Looking Forward, Looking Back

I. My Goals
Thanks to Jason's latest post, my goals for the students are very well delineated :-). 
In terms of the networks and because I am teaching Basic Writing, I intend to use the networks to hopefully fulfill three more goals:
I want my students to understand that they are not alone in their struggles. Too often Basic Writing students feel (or have been told) they are "not good enough" for college and many drop out after one semester of school. I believe the networks can offer the intellectual support system they may not be getting in other parts of their lives. Moreover, the transparency and permanence of the online component (which allows students to constantly check and compare how others responded to an assignment) encourages students to move from self-centered, isolated learning to recognizing that their learning owes and also contributes to the learning of others.
I want my students to get a taste of future possibilities. Since the network offers my Basic Writing students the possibility of checking the work of students in higher level courses, they can anticipate and perhaps even looking forward to what is to come. (This semester, for example, I had one Basic Writing student who admitted he would have never though of taking Shakespeare until he checked my Ning out of curiosity and realized my students were truly enjoying themselves).
I want my students to help others and learn to accept help from others. Our present culture stresses individual achievement and "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps" to an unhealthy degree. I want my students to know there is no disgrace in getting help or even asking for help, and that the best way to learn something (if not to achieve happiness) is to help others.
As for myself, my goals are to be clear, consistent, and more spontaneous. I say so because I am not very good at spontaneity yet. And that is one more aspect of Community 2.0 I like. Like my students, I am no longer working in isolation, but have the amazing resources that your courses offer at my fingertips, and thus can introduce a new assignment or give a new spin to an old one based on what you are doing.

Which brings me to the second part of the reflection:

II. My Entries And What You Have Said That Inspired Me

My entries seem to be a mix of reporting class happenings and praising the online environment. (Correspondingly, both my classes declared themselves openly enthusiastic about their online environments, Ning and Blogger). I seem to have experimented with many new features (Google Docs for the gradebook was the most onerous but also most satisfying) and my students connected to a variety of courses (ENG 099, ENG 101, and ENG 220, and even, thanks to Steve, to a Food Nutritionist!) all with satisfactory results (and also irritating glitches--remember the "spam" filter, Luke?) 

High moments: when I realized that students that had dropped the classes were still participating in them! (See post HERE). When my ENG099 students finally fell in the habit of working on their blogs uninterruptedly (no Facebook!) before the class started, some not even taking breaks. Going to the Community College Humanities Association Conference and listening to the amazing accounts of Lizzie, Luke, and Magda about their experiences with the networks and composition courses--We Rocked!!

Low moments: when, due to technical difficulties, Dr. Van and I could not connect our classes. When I overdid it with technology at the expense of the pedagogy and had to recap the class to fulfill my objectives. (It's a long story, but it involves me experimenting with Google Docs for group work).

Lastly, and honestly, I had a blast reading your posts, from Anne's map of online communities to Luke's grumbling about the darned Blogger features that make our life difficult to Susan's amazing display of knowledge concerning online tools and how to put them to good use for student learning (she has so many good entries, it is hard to link to just one) to Rich's warranted concern about how to "translate" online writing to academic writing and his suggestions to use video to maybe bridge the gap and much, much more. Keep 'em coming!

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