Grad Students Reflection on My Blog Post

One way to boost readership is to assign your own blog as a reading for your grad students!  All kidding aside, I blogged last week about two speakers at the ECVA Conference.  In “How Much Hand Holding?“, I discussed what  Michael Wesch had said about the new literacies required for teaching in the 21st Century, as well as what  Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins-Bell discussed about implementing technologies in ways that solve pedagogical issues.  In a gross simplification, Michael had stated that web skills should be a given and not taught by professors in a modern classroom, while Sarah had offered a contrasting view that students needed to understand the reason for using web tools and given time for the learning curve.  Over the past week, sixteen students and myself posted 59 threads and replies around this forum topic:

Read what I blogged about regarding Michael Wesch’s and Sarah Robbins’ presentation September 12th, and my reflections on how they resonate (or not) with this class.  Then discuss your reactions – for this class and for your classes as teachers.  Are your students really technically savvy?  Do they need instructions on how to use the web (and in what form should those instructions be?)?  Should I mirror in this class with graduate students the same approaches you would use with K-12 students (and why or why not?)?  Let’s be honest and self-reflective…you are not going to hurt my feelings, just hopefully make this course better.

I captured the resultant discussion in the Wordle below:

I love the almost serendipitous way Wordle places words such that you are tempted to make sense from the groupings!  Right under students, one sees “use tools course think!”  Exactly!!!  🙂

It was interesting and reassuring to see their reflections.  Almost all thought Michael went too far.  With their K-12 students, they recognized a wide diversity of access, ability, and capabilities.  They agreed with Michael that few students are actually tech savvy.  Their students know at a surface level the few applications they use routinely, but struggle with applied learning on the web.  Many of my grad students teach in Title 1 schools where a significant percentage of the students lack access to the internet at home.  They liked Sarah’s approach of discussing the promise, the tool, and the bargain as part of technology implication into their courses.

As one can see from the wordcloud above, my grad students have their own students uppermost in their thoughts.  It is somewhat frightening to listen to their comments about lack of access and lack of ability when it comes to their students using the web.  I could not help but reflect on the contrast CogDog suggested today when he blogged about his visit to Shanghai and the Learning 2.008 conference.  Al posted a picture of middle school and high school students who acted as the Geek Squad for the conference!  A great opportunity for those kids, and a reflection of the payoff one-to-one initiatives can have!  Too many kids in America are not gaining these opportunities.

Significantly, a good percentage of my grad students still feel over their heads in my class and expressed a wish that I had been less like Michael and more like Sarah as I introduced them to Web 2.0.  It appeared that quite a few wished that I had spent more time holding their hands.  They are really struggling with the paradigm shift they are now recognizing.  It is compounded by the fact that they are taking their first totally online course and trying to learn about the very environment in which they are themselves struggling.

Good formative feedback for me as I adjust the course for the next few modules.  I will work with these students to tease out better ways in which I could have held their hands.  I’ll be teaching this course again in the spring and will need some virtual ways to do a better job holding hands as the next class jumps in to the Web 2.0 stream.

As always, if anyone reading this has suggestions, leave a comment.  It would be most appreciated!

3 thoughts on “Grad Students Reflection on My Blog Post

  1. Sue – Unfortunately, they are scattered over three states hundreds of miles apart and only taking online courses this Fall and Spring. I did meet with them for one hour last July, but that only scratched the surface.

  2. Okay now that puts it all into more context in terms where they are at what would be required to provide the guiding hand type assistance that they would require. New people do need that guiding hand which is harder in your situation. However I have seen it done using Elluminate very successfully where you break the participants into breakout rooms and put them onto application sharing. The facilitator then moves between the rooms and assists as required.

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