Friday, June 8, 2012

Once more, with feeling

My reflection... a Community 2.0 Participant

This has been a year of confirming what I have been suspecting all along:

1. Blogs are excellent platforms to teach the writing process (duh! Ximena: they are publishing platforms). Why?
  • They are individual, informal, messy spaces that encourage creativity and thus are less threatening than the blank page or the blank simulated page of MSWord.
  • They allow for “learning by lurking”--I have countless reports of students reading each other’s blogs for inspiration and understanding
  • They are excellent spaces for all kinds of commenting from simple encouragement to formal peer review
  • They give writers a quick and powerful sense of their development as writers. Example: This semester, as my ENG099 students wrote the first paragraph of their end-of-class reflection, which required them to “identify their 3 best blog entries,” I saw a student ignoring her posts from the beginning of the semester. I said: “Have you looked at your March posts? There may be something good there.” “I already looked at them,” she answered. Pause. “They are so...short.” “that’s one of the reasons why I make you write these reflections, “ I say. “So that you can see what I see: you are a much stronger writer now. Your posts are long, detailed and full of interesting ideas.”
The usefulness of blogs to fulfill the goals of my writing classes is enough to convince me to keep using them. However, keeping track of blogs is A LOT OF WORK. My big challenge, then, will be to figure out how to assign and evaluate work so I do not burn myself out.

2. I like to “edupunk” tools. Example: Google Forms for brainstorming (see the full post HERE).

3. The shared Community 2.0 blog has become an indispensable resource for my own teaching. The insights of my colleagues, their queries, their immediate support when I have a problem, all have helped me when taking on unfamiliar roles as I experiment with new approaches to teaching and learning. A million thanks to everyone for all your hard work!! a Community 2.0 Leader

1. Repeat after me: “The tool must fit the instructor, must fit the purpose of the class.” (Blackboard is very nice as a one-size-fits-all tool, but, as we all know, one size fits all means it fits no one well).

2. I really, really like learning about new tools and helping others navigate new tools.

3. Because the focus of our community is not so much the online work per se but the connections and interactions it encourages, we have had some interesting discoveries in terms of audience, peer critique, and community creation that are unique to experimental endeavors such as Community 2.0. By having two or more parallel sections share, collaborate, and asses each other’s work, for example, we put in motion one of humanity’s most powerful motivators: peer pressure. Thus, our students have reported that seeing other students’ work in progress makes them want to put more effort in their own assignments. They also report a high level of “learning by lurking”—that is, learning by reading or following other students’ work without being compelled by the teacher. And, as Luke reports, in the case of a higher-level course mentoring a lower-level course, the pressure on the higher-level students shifts to acting responsibly toward the lower-level students so that the advice being dispensed is as useful as possible. This pressure to “do well” and “act appropriately” seems to be enhanced by the fact that the students are not familiar with one another except online.

4. As many of you have reported,by belonging to Community 2.0, students begin to feel part of a larger community of people with the same objectives and challenges as them. This sense of community also extends over time, as for example, when I showed my students sample Final Projects from last semester: as we browsed through last semester’s blogs, my students could see how students just like them had fulfilled the requirements for the project and the course, and hopefully, felt they could follow in their footsteps. Lastly, the connection to higher-level courses helped create a sense of continuity and progression that is particularly helpful for advisement: what better way to explain to a student the requirements of an ENG101 class than to show her what the class is actually like as it progresses?

For incoming leaders!
There is no “off time” in Community 2.0 leadership, nor are my interactions with participants confined to seminar time: as I write this, I know there is at least one blog entry from a fellow participant awaiting my response.    :-)


  1. Great advice to all seasoned and future/new Community 2.0 participating. Always remember that "lurking" definitely gets students interested and hooked!

  2. It is very encouraging to read of the ways in which you have used the internet to increase peer interaction within your classes. I have always feared that technology necessarily fragments communication and groups, but having taken this seminar I see that it can augment the quality of interaction that students have with each other and with me the professor.

  3. I agree with you that our students become part of a larger community. As I experienced this past year, my students were connected with students from other classes. They were able to compared notes and learned from each other. This is something that I have never witnessed. I will definitely continued to explore this interaction further and build a stronger community of mathematics learners.

  4. I love the "learning by lurking" idea since it's something that so many of us do, especially with technology. I've always been a proponent of "watching and learning" and this seminar allowed us to do exactly that. I sometimes worry if it's worth it to post so many links and comments to my class Facebook page, but I'm fairly certain that at least some students are reading every word carefully, whether they respond publicly or not. Certainly, that's how I use Facebook in my personal life -- I almost never comment but I follow the comments of others fairly regularly.

  5. I too like the "learning by lurking" concept- i believe that's one way students build self-efficacy which is an important concept to their academic, professional and personal success.

  6. Your seminar was so inspiring! I never thought I would be using blogger as my teaching tool and have my students start blogging in a studio art course. It would never have occurred to me that I can connect two classes of mine and have those students communicate if I were not in this seminar. This is interesting in part because most CUNY colleges have Beginning and Intermediate Painting students combined in one class but not LaGuardia. It was indeed a worthwhile experiment.