Friday, June 8, 2012

Pedagogy 2.0

The conclusion of Community 2.0 leaves me with bittersweet feelings. On the one hand, it means the summer has finally arrived (although I've got two classes to teach - doh!). But looking back on the conversations and experiments that occurred because of the 2.0 seminar, I wish the semester was still going. Colleagues like Michelle Pacht and Maria Jersky have already pointed out so many of the general and specific reflections I also note. Jason and Ximena, our super leaders, have also left some terrific reflections to close this semester's blog. 

Looking back, my pedagogy definitely advanced in new ways, and some of them were unexpected. At the beginning of the seminar, I thought I knew how to use blogs; I didn't. I was worried about incorporating Twitter; it became very useful. In one respect I was too ambitious - I really wanted to create a peer-to-peer chat out of class that functioned like a peer review. I'll attempt it in the fall.

Blogs

By assigning blogs I realized that they were as useful for building and practicing specific skills as they were repositories for student reflection. They functioned better, actually, as vehicles to practice summary, paraphrase, direct quotation and citation, writing to an audience, and, later, critical thinking. In ENG 101, I can't assume students automatically have thoughts about texts and ideas; it's a bit strange, then, to have them "blog" in the sense that we associate with commercials blogs (ruminations, reflections, analysis).

The largest and most surprising evolution in assigning blogs was the peer evaluation that came with cross-class connections. My ENG 101 students seemed to incorporate revision suggestions more often from their peers than from me, the professor. They enjoyed those connections more. I did have to work hard to "train" students to evaluate other writing, and provide rules and guidelines for it. This training took class time, but it was valuable because it often doubled over the very same writing techniques I was already teaching them. Assigning students regular reading from their peers that involved them identifying those techniques and evaluating them sped up the pedagogy process. In a very real sense, I believe this one of the ways that 'faster' technology accelerated student learning, literally.

I was also surprised by how my ENG 220 class, the peer tutor training course, quickly adapted to a number of peer evaluations involving both ENG 101 students and ENG 099 students. The virtual connections they made with the 099 students prior to their 'live' tutoring built confidence, allowed them to practice skills, and gave them familiarity with 099 student writing. I actually don't think I'll ever teach the 220 class without this element, in the future.

Twitter

Twitter was the main focus of my experimentation, and I changed how I assigned it in the fall versus the spring. In the fall, I made it a regular component of class discussion and out of class reading. There were several advantages to this: I could monitor and learn from student reading; I could facilitate classroom discussion better by incorporating their Tweets; and the class had more connections out of class than otherwise would be possible. I noticed students form conversations on Twitter beyond what I assigned - this was learning for learning's sake.

In the spring, I cut back on the weekly element of Twitter and used it to strategically experiment. Students Tweeted on films we watched, which provided myself and them with a collection of notes to draw upon for essays and assignments. Some students chose to revise their Tweet observations directly into their essays. This was a very real way that Twitter became part of the student writing process, and fed directly from a low-stakes, in-class assignment into a high-stakes, staged formal writing assignment.

I also began to use Twitter as a research tool in the spring. I gave students mini-research assignments related to class discussions. They had to conduct Google searches, find news articles, and Tweet those articles into their Twitter feed. They then had to Tweet a second time, but this Tweet was a comment upon the article just posted. In this way, students were able to pool research information and evaluate that information in a space outside the classroom. This worked rather effectively, and some of them incorporated that research into their blogs, and later into their essays.

Pedagogy 3.0

In the future, I want to increase the opportunities for "live" chat and conversation between connected students, possibly in the same class and even outside of the class. I'd also like to continue posting my experiments with Twitter and Blogger on this site, even as it perhaps goes quiet next year. I want to continue building new technologies into my class as it becomes feasible. I cannot, for a fact, imagine teaching without these tools in the future. My pedagogy is officially socially networked.

Highlights

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5 comments:

  1. I like the way in which you have fully integrated your online component with your in-class component to the point that they are virtually (haha) seemless. Great work.

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  2. True networked social media. Impressed on how students followed suit, as well! Great Job!

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  3. I'd be very interested to see the materials you used to "train" students for peer review. I still have trouble with that aspect, as student commenting skills vary so widely and some will inevitably ignore what their peers have written and focus just on what I have to say. For the diligent and caring students, peer review can be an amazing process but for those who are less diligent and/or less adept at communicating their thoughts, the results are often less than helpful.

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  4. I am very inspired by the way you have incorporated technology into your teaching. I am interested on how you would use "live" chats to connect among your students. Can I use this in a math class? I am thinking!

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  5. Ditto. Your "Highlights" is very informative, too.

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