Which way to the classroom?

Workshop Day 1

Acting Class: collaborative text analysis and imaging the narrative

The focus of this post concerns the changing nature of our ‘classrooms’. School’s in for the year and we’ve hit the ground running as they say; at least we’re there on the ground in traditional classrooms, in workshops, and online. The electronic revolution is nibbling insistently if not biting hard yet … at least as far as e-learning is concerned in my neck of the woods.

Last night I worked in a virtual classroom in a live chat with a very small group of students … hope this grows! Memo to self: strategise getting them on board! They still need help, as do my colleagues, to make sense of this Web 2.0 world. I’ve also been working in a traditional classroom in the stand and deliver mode this week, but even there I’m more interested in getting the students to do the learning, rather than to stroke my own ego by giving them the goods culled and mediated through my own experience.

Less and less do I like the traditional lecture-mode of course delivery; I’m boring myself and mindful of the waste in learning-time. By this I mean that the students are passively engaged while I am doing most of the work. They need to do more pull and me less push.

The new tools of the digital classroom are making this more and more possible. It’s how we mash-up, configure our materials, teach our students how to think about using these tools, how to get engaged as well as feel excited, attracted by and to the learning interface … is what I’m focussing on right now.

This is part of an excellent post from Steve Hargadon encapsulates what is attracting me currently in the field:

* Help Build the New Playbook. You may think that you don’t have anything to teach the generation of students who seem so tech-savvy, but they really, really need you. For centuries we have had to teach students how to seek out information – now we have to teach them how to sort from an overabundance of information. We’ve spent the last ten years teaching students how to protect themselves from inappropriate content – now we have to teach them to create appropriate content. They may be “digital natives,” but their knowledge is surface level, and they desperately need training in real thinking skills. More than any other generation, they live lives that are largely separated from the adults around them, talking and texting on cell phones, and connecting online. We may be afraid to enter that world, but enter it we must, for they often swim in uncharted waters without the benefit of adult guidance. To do so we may need to change our conceptions of teaching, and better now than later.

And teachers are talking about what the imperative to create e-portfolios, deliver online, work at blending their delivery to students really MEANS! The early up-takers are keen to assist, and as the questions come, I remain convinced that less-structured learning clusters amongst colleagues is the best way to assist. This is collaborative professional development in the true spirit of collegiality.

This week, I’ve been engaged in a trans-Tasman (that’s Australia-New Zealand) hookup via a Moodle forum this week. Good topics, chat, food for thought and collegial collaboration … now this is open professional development. I missed the coffee and the face to face, but we could have gone face to face via video had we chosen to. Next step. For now words still rule, and we’re making a start. That’s what matters.

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