Posts tagged ‘teaching’

July 12, 2010

Lab Sessions: Integrating Technology?

For the first time I’m using a virtual campus and a lab on a regular basis. This is a new situation. Even though I’ve been using the web as part of my classes for almost 4 years, I have no experience at all with live online activities with students.

Soon I had to admit I was taking too many things for granted, which made the class a bit messy.

I assumed I controlled the contents I created. 

But then I saw that the school has copyright over the campus.

Solution: first I publish the activities under creative common license, then I copy them on the campus and attribute them to myself. Yes, more work, but I don’t want someone else to own what they’re not paying for.

I assumed students could follow written instructions. 

Well, most of them can’t. As they work at their own pace, the result was I ended up repeating individual instructions over and over again.

Solution: I use the projector to go over the whole activity before we start.

I assumed students would follow my instructions even when they implied new practices. But old practices rule. 

For example, they are supposed to search copyleft images, I give them the link to flickrcc and they use Google image search. Or they have to write using a campus application or a google doc and they use word.

Solution: No solution. Insisting and waiting, maybe.

I had to face a bigger problem. No. I mean, I’m facing a bigger problem.

I believe technology should be part of a class. Twitter, a piece of chalk, google search, delicious, a text book, a Cd, a blog, a sheet of paper, a wiki, a pencil… So, the thing is, how can a once in a month lab session (scheduled by someone else) be part of my classes?

I haven’t been able to work that out. In fact, I don’t want to work it out. Any solution to this would be a hoax. I could lie, lie to you, to the institution and even to myself and publish a list of the wonderful activities my students are developing. Well, some are wonderful, not doubt. Yet, they are not embedded in the classes.


Photo Credit: So Many Ways by Furryscaly

May 22, 2010

Me and them

This is individual work, I uttered unexpectedly but purposefully.

I was talking to my labour-division-fan groups, trying to get them involved into a collaborative work. C-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-v-e. The thing is they kept stuck to that group notion. Kill the group, I thought. Individual, I said.

Have I become a late neoliberalism agent?, I feared.

Soon, traces of collaboration started to show up.

I work with words. I teach a foreign language. Even foreign to me. I know words are tricky. I know they can mean what they don’t mean. Why would it matter if I’d said individual when I meant collaborative? It just worked.

I was trying to start a learning experience. I don’t know whether learning is social or not. I do know it’s an experience. As such, is it explainable? Well, at least it’s livable.

This is what we are living:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “2001: A Space Odyssey“, posted with vodpod

We are reading 2001: A space Odyssey and after our first academically correct students’ production, I decided to make a change. I told them they would become experts. I selected four quite broad topics related to the book and asked them to jump into the universe (wiki included).

I jumped as well. I didn’t keep my safety teacher feet stuck to the planet earth.

  • Two classes are working together. Same school. Different ages. Same language level. No class face to face contact between the two groups, but for the wiki. (Still weak wiki.)
  • I know nothing about their fields of future expertise. (I’m far older than my students, though. Sometimes that is an advantage.)
  • I’m working without a plan. Yes, no planning at all. I  improvise. Constantly. Thrilling, isn’t it? It’s working. Furthermore, I think it’s working because I don’t have a plan. As the only thing I have is the pure experience, I observe. Constantly. And I try. Trial and error. And patience. Loads of.
  • I’m not grading them. They’re working for free. And they are secondary school students. At secondary school everything is about marks. (Well, some are not working much, I admit. But they wouldn’t be working even if I was grading them.) No marks, but assessment.  Me and them.

I don’t know what the outcome might be. I do know that to some of them it will be meaningful.

As a teacher -that observer/doer who is within the picture, I’m enjoying my own learning experience. Individual up to now, socialized after clicking publish. I’m also enjoying witnessing my students’ learning experience. Individual? Social? Personal. Yes, personal. And shared. And distributed.

En Español.