Building my Case

“Why would give students access to something that makes the classroom obsolete? What about interpersonal skills and accountability? Who would come to class if you could just get it all online?”

Feeling Fearful Today

These are paraphrased examples of responses I got from a group of teachers a few weeks back in response to showing them Moodle. Granted, this was a group of highly engaging, talented teachers who give everything they have to their careers.

In light of that fact, I am trying to use these questions as a building point for future discussions I might have as we begin to create new curriculum using Moodle and other digital methods. One, of many, things our staff fears is the lack of accountability that they believe is a by-product of online learning and online life in general. Carolyn Foote writes today about what I interpret as “what happens after you bring the horse to water” phenomenon:

In The Big Picture, Littkey points out that
learning is very personal. He also posits that the “real
learning happens after” the encounter. “It’s
what you do with it, how you integrate it, how you talk to your family,
friends, and classmates about it” that constitutes the learning
process.

Once again, I’m led to wonder if we give students enough time
for that “learning after” process. I believe that we
learn as things go on the “back burner” and we process them
in the background, but in the rush for “new” lessons each
day, do we allow enough room for reflection?

In a brief response on her post, I likened it to an experience I had while teaching a workshop to middle school teachers on using wikis as collaborative environments:

A teacher in one of my workshops last year described her “learning
later” as the “drive-home effect,” as she would always have great
discussions in her head about her graduate school classes. What was
lacking, she claimed, was the ability to take those thoughts and act
upon them in some kind of environment that would further them. For us,
that environment is now this; for our students, what do we provide?
What experiences do we offer for them to take advantage of that
“drive-home effect?”

I think what I am running into with this group of teachers is that they are seeing the two things, online environments or LMS‘s and accountability, as diametrically opposed elements. I am not worried, however. What would worry me is if these people weren’t talented, intelligent and dedicated and were posing these questions. Instead, I am trying to meet with them before we break to get inside their heads and find out what they might think of something like what Carolyn wrote, or what accountability needs to look like in an online environment, or what they want students who leave their classes to be able to do well.

Another element to all this is that this summer I’d like to take a long look at the types of assignments our teachers are asking students to do via their blogs and wikis. From some feedback I’ve received in the last week or so, it seems as if there is a lot of “schooliness” in the pedagogy behind how we’ve implemented the use of social media in our classrooms. Truth be told, I would take a considerable amount of blame there; it was upon my suggestion that a good portion of these teachers began using these tools; I can’t help but feel responsible for not providing better pedagogical support for them.

Image Credit: “Feeling Fearful Today,” from hortulus photostream on Flickr

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One thought on “Building my Case

  1. When teachers, managers or legislators indicate there is a need for more accountability, they are thinking there’s a lack of self-motivation, desire and intentionality. They are afraid of slackers looking for a free ride, cheaters looking for loopholes and cynics looking for something to dis. I’m thinking something different about what is offered and supposed to be a good thing for me. I’m seeing that this must not be:
    – as fun as discovering what I was searching for on the web
    – as intriguing as a mystery that starts out with only a few clues
    – as immersive as playing a console/computer game for hours
    – as adventurous as learning how to use new techno gadgets and software
    – as captivating as conversations or texting about me and us
    – as reflective as coming up with what to write for someone else to read
    – as creative as making video clips, slides or pics to upload for others to see

    Then I’ve got to wonder, why not?

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