Students find discussions disillusioning just about as often as faculty do. In the analysis referenced below, students objected when a few fellow classmates dominated the discussion; when the discussion wandered off topic, making it difficult to ascertain main points; and when students participated just for the sake of participating.
Wiki technologies are being used by many instructors and students as an effective tool for a variety of collaborative projects, such as composing group papers, creating a rich knowledge base, managing projects efficiently, and forming virtual communities. The benefits of using wiki tools include ease of use and collaboration, good instructor control, and anytime/anywhere accessibility.
Management professor David A. Whetten, who now directs a faculty development center, admits with honesty that for some years he didn’t think there was much he could learn from people who “studied” education. After all, he was in the classroom doing education and had learned much from that experience. In a wonderful piece [see reference below] he explains how a conversation with his golf instructor resulted in an important insight about the nature of experiential learning.
The midwife is still my favorite metaphor for teaching. I don’t think there’s a metaphor that more aptly captures the complexity, power, and richness of the dynamic relationship between teachers, students, and learning. The metaphor is not original with me, and although I have read some quibbles in the literature as to who first proposed it, I first encountered it in a 1986 Harvard Educational Review essay by William Ayers. Here’s some of my current thinking about how the midwife mirrors all that a good teacher should be.
If Web 1.0 was about information, then Web 2.0 is about sharing information. This second generation of the web is more personalized, more collaborative, and more engaging. Is it any wonder faculty are looking for ways to leverage these capabilities in their courses?
If you have been teaching for any time at all, I’ll bet you’ve encountered what I call the interested but noncompliant student (hereafter, the INC). Here are some examples encountered in my courses: In an ancient language course, one INC would not take the trouble to learn her noun forms and verb endings but, fascinated by the language, went online to find an inscription that she tried to decipher. Another INC read more than I have in a subdivision of my field. He wanted to talk about it endlessly before and after class, so much so that I had to chase him away to give other students a chance to talk to me. Am I describing student behaviors that sound familiar?
Managing students who are disruptive, those who lack motivation and appear as though they would rather be any place than in the classroom, is easier when faculty take the right stance. Anything is possible when faculty have faith in the students they teach. Learning starts with a dedicated teacher interested in meeting the challenge of how to present content in a way that successfully navigates the barriers students erect.
To meet the needs of today’s students, colleges and universities are offering more courses in block time formats. These courses meet once a week for three hours, extended hours over fewer weeks, or on weekends. Typically, the students who take these courses are working full time, are interested in career advancement, and want classes that keep them engaged.
Blended learning, which combines face-to-face learning with a mixture of online activities, has been hailed as both a cost-effective way to relieve overcrowded classroom and a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom experience. But it has quickly become much more than that.
Some years back The Teaching Professor featured an article highlighting Mano Singham’s wonderful piece describing how he moved away from a very authoritarian, rule-centered syllabus (reference below). It’s one of my very favorite articles—I reference it regularly in presentations, and it appears on almost every bibliography I distribute.