I started this blog some time ago to invest in the reflective work on teaching and learning that I was asking of my students, and I was not a good role model. Thanks to Todd Conaway for jump starting this project where a number of us will write together.
I didn’t keep up the blog because there was always something else that needed to be done, and I’m certainly feeling now that I should be working on my syllabi for the quarter.
But here’s the thing: I’m grappling with whether or not to incorporate two new digital tools into my Education and the American Dream course this quarter. It’s time to decide.
I have seen multiple faculty blogs and tweets about using Hypothes.is to support social reading, as students jointly annotate websites or PDFs. I’ve read very encouraging accounts of deepened learning, richer class discussions, and students’ capacity to see things in course readings that they might otherwise have missed. Some of the readings in Am Dream are dry but important sociological studies, and I imagine that enabling students to read “together” would provoke more questions and legitimize critique of writing styles that merit critique. I’m also often surprised with the range of “numerical literacy” among students when they read some of the quantitative analyses, and I imagine the learning that could happen by witnessing others’ interpretations/ questions/ ideas as they work through these readings.
Back in June –when the summer seemed so enticingly long — I also spent some time playing with Twine and I started to get excited about making interactive stories for this class. They read books (in small group “book circles” that usually operate mainly within fairly conventional online discussions) that trace pathways of opportunity — along with multiple multiple obstacles to opportunity. I imagine them constructing games that explore different outcomes for the people in their books as they consider the complex routes that people take from childhood to adulthood.
So, instead of just revising my assignments and taking a run at either of these, I write. I imagine having one or two students primed ahead time (and bribed with at least coffee cards) who could help classmates troubleshoot and who could model playfulness. I imagine how great it would be to know that a few colleagues were also experimenting with either of these this quarter and we could compare notes or panic together out of the sight of students when we have no idea how to solve something. But neither of those is likely.
So it’s time to decide. Do I have the time? I no longer believe that I have to have “mastered” a tool to introduce it to students, but neither will I go in without having a very good idea of how something works. Will colleagues understand when two students (inevitably) push back on their end of quarter feedback that “this is not a tech class”? Would my time be better spent prepping for my conference presentations (they COUNT) than refining assignments that already work ok?
I’m also developing a brand new course, in a new field that has mostly been an ever-more-finely tagged folder in Evernote for a year now, and is only now being organized into weeks and assignments and grading scales. That’s been a lot of (fun) w0rk.
But it’s time to decide.
Stay tuned. Right now, I have no idea.