For the last 17 weeks I’ve been teaching in Kentucky. The commute was pretty easy … just down stairs. And the course was one of those terrifyingly exciting experiences that comes along every so often when you teach. The reason I’ve not written much here is that I wrote so much over on the Phaedrus blog! For the first 12 weeks, I wrote something every day (on average) seven days a week.
We started with my traditional greeting message Good Morning, Mr. Phelps. Over the course of the first week’s effort, the students were asked to subscribe to a listserver, start a blog, get an office in TappedIn, set up an aggregator, and establish an Instant Messenger link. Once established we started using the tools to talk about issues like Education and Distance and Learning. All things considered it was a great ride and I hope that the students really did find it to be as stimulating as they said they did.
Some of the posts that started the biggest discussions:
- On the Classroom where I discussed the purpose of the classroom and why “as good as the classroom” isn’t really good enough. Given that my students were mostly classroom teachers, this went better than I thought it might.
- Learner Centered was a response to the question, “Why are we doing all this stuff outside of Blackboard?”
- On Distance Education was the wrap up post on the week devoted to looking at definitions and parameters of distance ed.
- A recurring theme in this course was Thinking Like a Learner. One of the goals was to get the students to understand that being a student and being a learner are two separate things. I’m perhaps being arbitrary in designating students as those individuals who care about grades and learners as those who care about knowledge. As a distinction, the class rapidly got on board with it.
- It didn’t take long for us to get into trying to deal with Reconciling Teaching and Learning. We were quite careful to examine Teaching (as separate from Education) and Learning. If we, as teachers, recognize that the students’ goal is not our goal, then we can begin to deal with creating educational experiences that provide for common ground.
- It took us three weeks of foundational work before we actually got into learning about My Basic Toolbox. We worked together to deal with some of the issues of tools.
- Why Powerpoint is Evil was one of the more intriguing posts of the semester because it elicited an invitation to do a guest spot at a middle school in Texas. The students had been given a copy of my post and had some questions. It was a wonderful experience for me and I understand from the teacher-in-the-room that the students got a lot out of it, too.
- Fostering Engagement came as part of the design and development portion of the course wherein I explained how I was demonstrating engagement in the course and practicing what I preached.
- Another post that elicited outside interest was ZPD where I laid out Vygotsky’s idea of Zone of Proximal Development. While my grad students found this a fascinating idea, the 8th graders in Texas asked me to come back to talk to them about that idea as well. What a blast! Using the idea of ZPD as an example of the principle in that they didn’t know it existed before they read my post, and after learning a bit about it, they were fascinated to learn about the principle, Vygotsky, cognitive apprenticeship, and that learning is something that learners do that’s really quite independent of what teachers do.
- That topic lead naturally into the role of The Teacher where I described a model of teacher as being neither “sage” nor “guide” but rather “bridge.”
- Ironically, one of the ideas that kept cropping up was Learning, Technology, and Age. I got rather tired of hearing about how this class of mostly thirty-somethings were “too old” to assimilate the lessons of technology easily. As a card carrying member of AARP, I had some words for them.
- There were a lot more posts, but I think these are pretty much the ones that I’m happiest with.
So, that’s where I’ve been for the last four months. I’m back now,