November 3, 2014
Have a Mentor. Be a Mentor. Party.
One of the pivotal elements of my 803 course (and coincidentally one of the most fragmented from the previously mentioned 803 craziness that set us all on less than ideal footing at the beginning of the term) is the four to six week long teaching “internship” or “practicum” that has been built into the course. The idea with this element is that because this course is called “Teaching and Learning in Online Education” it is only natural that students who are taking the course should dip their toes into the teaching element of the equation, gaining practical experience to balance out the heavy doses of theory also being learned. Ideally the students in the course are skills assessed at some point over the summer, matched with a practicing instructor (also over the summer), and come to fall term ready to go in their practicum, bulking up whatever skills they may feel a bit low on. The student learns, the practicing instructor gets a little help….everyone wins.
As I’ve written about previously, because of a combination of lots of system level, climate level, and just plain bad luck and timing, none of that happened with our cohort. Consequently we’re all only now (about halfway through the course) being placed in practicum relations or, as in my case, making a space and designing a study for ourselves within the structures that we are already located.
In my case, I created a four week initiative within our existing extracurricular Design Club called the “Mentor Challenge.” Initially I was super curious about and hoped to use this four week span to intentionally study how the feedback/critique that happens peer to peer differs from the feedback/critique that happens from instructor to peer. I’m still super curious but given that for this project I need to get in and out in a relatively quick manner (and I have no idea how I’d actually go about evaluating the peer to peer versus instructor to peer study) I decided to table that idea for another trial later down the road and focus instead on the much espoused but still (I would argue) much murky issue of the impact of mentor relationships in online learning programs. My particular focus for this study is on how to create, engage, and sustain mentor relationships in the relatively impersonal online learning landscape.
November 2, 2014
Discovery Based Instruction is a pretty wicked cool thing. Don’t know what it is? No worries! I won’t write endlessly and expect you to read it, rather click the image above or click here to watch a video overview and discover it for yourself!
And be sure to turn up your volume as it’s got audio.
November 1, 2014
Today marks the first day of Nanowrimo which means (on the small chance that you might be an uninitiated) that for the next month everyone and their mother is going to be trying their hand at writing the next great American novel. 30 days….50,000 words….#genius. Or so the hope goes.
Where did the idea come from you may ask? Good question! The most iconic “Great American Novel” is The Great Gatsby. Penned by F Scott Fitzgerald in the second decade of the twentieth century, The Great Gatsby has all the elements of a super complex thriller (thwarted love, murder, jazz, and bourbon….lots of bourbon) but it also manages to be short enough and concise enough that one could, in theory, read it in a somewhat short period of time (which also means high schoolers everywhere actually read the real book and not the Spark Notes. Novel, eh?: ) Gatsby clocks in at about 50,000 words thus the next great American novel has a good chance at success if it too can hit that word count. In this spirit of intense optimism, vigor, courage, and idealism, every November people everywhere (or at least everywhere in the States) dutifully sign up on the Nanwrimo website, drool over the badges they might earn and the products they might buy with their first royalty check, pour themselves a very full double scotch, and then get down to the business of putting words on screen in the hopes that the story that has been living in their head for the past eleven months might actually have the legs to turn them into a twenty-first century Fitzgerald.
I’ll admit that in the past my knowledge of Nanowrimo didn’t extend much past listening to interviews on NPR as I was in the midst of long and somewhat dreary commutes to work as an in-house designer. These interviews gave me a very passing and high level knowledge of the fabled fiction dreamers who hoped that with some discipline and consistency they too could match the output of Fitzgerald and pen their own classic in a month’s time. To the past me it sounded like a fun and quaint challenge….if that happened to be your thing….somewhat more extreme and high stakes than committing to watching an entire season of Survivor in a weekend…somewhat less extreme and high stakes than committing to run a full marathon.
That said this year, after some deliberation, I’ve decided that it’s time….this year it’s time for me to shift in allegiance from the one who passively listens to NPR as I sit in mind numbing traffic to the one who is talking in animated, fanatical tones as they’re interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.