I’ve been feeling need to take a step back and breathe, just sit for a moment and survey the landscape at it zooms by.
Interesting, isn’t it, how this community grows. Back in December, for me it was just Peter, Pat, Terry and Sarah. Now there’s Joe who is been OD-ing on this, and Sebastian, Ken, Karen, David, Charlie Lowe at Fla. State, Barbara and the rest of Middlebury. And now Greg from Indiana U, and soon others. Seems like slowly but surely we’re kinda finding each other and challenging each other in very stimulating ways (at least for me.)
I also want to remember to feel the rush of all this intellectual challenge. For me, at least, this has brought me to a very cool place and forced me to do more writing and thinking about my teaching than I have in many years. Easy to get swept up by it.
And I want to remember to bow to the gods of good fortune that have provided me the opportunity to go with it.
From The Little Zen Companion: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Ok, moment over…Greg feels that my idea yesterday might have a negative impact in the classroom in terms of asking them to “prove each other wrong by challenging either the information or the source” of their individual research. I may not have been clear in what my brain was thinking. (I do that a lot…get lost in the inspiration.) I’m not sure that “teacher-instigated, required conflict” is quite what I was aiming at. More, I’m thinking that students need to be shown the merits of not just accepting as truth the first thing they find. If part of the process was for collaborators to find other points of view, present them all to the group, and then collectively come to some conclusions as to what the “truth” may actually be, it would show them the benefits of looking at more than one side of the issue. Weblogs would be a great way to watch that process happen.
In another post, Greg linked to some excellent sites on alternative assessments, which is a whole ‘nother part of this discussion for me. (I need to start another weblog…yeah, right.) In an e-mail, he writes “I think what a blog might bring is the longitudinal record of the process for a student, and would allow them to become more reflective about where they were then and where they are heading now. It would also allow others to see that, too. Some instructors can see this as they might have a student in different classes thru the few years the student is at that school. But to get students to start looking at themselves and their own learning efforts would be a huge leap forward, imho.” Certainly resonates here. And the assessment question has already come up regarding my proposal.
Greg also writes “We all gotta help each other, at this point. And yes, once you enjoy the blog kool-aid, you start seeing all sorts of possible uses for them. :-)” Amen.
Joe is struggling with access issues and ways to build the idea for weblogs: “I felt the need to pull my head out of the clouds today after conversations with several teachers here in NYC who don’t even have access to a server for hosting any type of web-based materials for class – from a simple class website to a blog.” Did I mention I feel lucky? But I need to remember that this place is not reality for a lot of other teachers out there. This is going to take some time, which is a good thing, I think.
Finally, Chris responds to Pat’s surprise when his workshop members loved the Blackboard demo. Basically, he says it’ll pass: “And in the end what they really wanted was a writing, authoring, dissemination tool for themselves and their students. Something like a weblog. But they don’t know that’s what they want, because it’s hard to describe, and you have to use it to know what it is, and it’s totally unlike any of those other courseware apps out there that people have been oohing and aahing over for many years now, but somehow the oohing and aahing dies down after people use them.” I’ll keep this in mind as I formulate my pitch…