Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Final Reflection

A frequent kvetch I hear is how despite the official embracing of pedagogical ideals, the time we are allowed to devote to teaching seems so limited. (“It’s like teaching is side hobby.” Or maybe I am just a little beleaguered by committee work that I can’t put my heart in.) While of course this seminar and resulting activities required a time commitment (that I wish I could have more diligently adhered to), it also provided some much-needed moments to reflect on what we are all doing here - thinking about the teaching process itself and what directions we want to drive it in.

Working with Magda’s ENG101 class was a very positive experience. Facilitating group work is always going to have glitches (particularly when one of the classes is online), but it turned out better in the second semester. As many other people here have said, we have to be ready for a lot of trial and error.

I had the opportunity of meeting Magda’s class in person by doing their library intro session. This helped materialize the connection between our classes to some extent too, I think. Conversations with one student in particular, Claudia, who was working on the topic of Asian masculinity, were also fun and productive. She even came to a panel discussion I put together about Asian representations in comic books and asked Larry Hama (the GI Joe writer) some excellent questions. I was very impressed.

Part of the reason this worked out well was because of my particular interest in the topic covered in this class (masculinities). I wish library faculty could pair up with classes more in this way. The emphasis here in the library is on providing general orientations for whoever requests it, but it works out so much better when our familiarity with the content is not so superficial. Beyond this, if relationships with particular classes/instructors could be established beyond the one isolated session, it would also help us support the work better. What role will libraries play in these developing learning contexts?

- On future directions, generally: are there any aspects of the current classroom model (a room with someone lecturing before 30 students) that we want to preserve? Thinking back on my own experiences as a student, I can’t recall any “best classroom experiences” from anything that resembled this setting. Do some of those anonymous, silent students do benefit more from online instruction? Educational use of technology is often looked at skeptically as a mere cost-saving measure (a concern not to be dismissed, to be sure), but in what ways will this hybridity increasingly become the instructional norm? What are we going to have to let go of?
- How can we extend these online communities we’ve formed beyond the boundaries of this seminar, and find ways to collaborate with other classes and departments?

- How can both faculty and students in the LaGuardia community find new ways of connecting with each other online? Facebook? Something like the Academic Commons, but more targeted towards our specific needs?

The Ning platform is not ideal, but students this semester were again very enthusiastic about its use as a Blackboard alternative. I’ll try looking into other possibilities this summer.

I appreciated how time was set aside in our meetings for independent investigation of the various tools/platforms/lessons that our colleagues from different semesters tried out. This is the sort of thing that always gets pushed aside to some imaginary downtime in the future.

I wish I had more answers (or at least constructive suggestions) to these questions, but these are a few things for me to continue thinking about. One promising connection: after a conversation with someone participating in Community 2.0 next semester, I think I have another future class collaboration partner. I also very much appreciate how this seminar allowed me to learn from all the experienced and generous faculty both conducting and participating in the sessions. If our role in the development of new pedagogical practices is going to be more than just reactive, projects like Community 2.0 will need to continue to be supported.


  1. I enjoyed the contemplative tone of this final reflection. I also have trouble remember what I might consider "best classroom experiences." As a student, I never took a class in a computer lab--of course, I'm also old enough to remember using typewriters and actual card catalogs. But I think you're right in wondering what we want to preserve as we move forward, as we "evolve" into "hybridity." Surely we want to take note of what works in a traditional model.

    I also believe that considering how instructors--especially English instructors--might integrate the library (and librarians) into their curriculum is very important. It seems that Community 2.0 is the right place to think about this. Could classes network with librarians? Could this online interaction include more library work or conversation with librarians? Perhaps it should.

  2. I think you bring up some good points on where the classroom learning experience is going. I do not think that we have to give up anything but just to incorporate new methods to help student learn. The face to face meeting was a good start to help students engage with each other, that is real group work. Also for for me it was totally a trial and error experience.