Monday, August 31, 2009

The first week of class

The first two classes were a lot of fun, at least for me. I've been able to watch what happens when 31 really bright students explore the content, the technology, the classroom, and their team. Structuring the assignments and then getting out of the way seems to be working, just as Marc Prensky describes it:

"One reason that the pedagogy of students teaching themselves never caught on as the mainstream approach – although it has been advocated by many, certainly since Dewey and probably since Socrates – is that the available tools for learners to use just were not good enough....Today’s technology offers students all kinds of new, highly effective tools they can use to learn on their own – from the Internet with almost all the information, to search and research tools to sort out what is true and relevant, to analysis tools to help make sense of it, to creation tools to present one’s findings in a variety of media, to social tools to network and collaborate with people around the world. And while the teacher can and should be a guide, most of these tools are best used by students, not teachers."

We're contributing as we are able, from the instructor's experience (sprinkled with curiosity) to the students' enthusiasm and willingness to explore. What an adventure...and there's an entire semester to go.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The classroom debut

The Collaborative Classroom is ready and what a difference! The new tools are reasonably straightforward, so students should be able to engage in learning that extends as far as the technology. Teams, collaboration, and problem-solving (real time...during the class) designed to replicate as closely as possible the work for which we are preparing our students. It forces me to think about how to structure assignments to provide enough guidance to make sure we meet course objectives, without getting in the way of our very bright students.

A Capstone course--one intended to take content from multiple courses and synthesize a cohesive framework for understanding how businesses use strategy and planning--is an opportunity for students to produce a portfolio of work that reflects well upon them and upon their education. Student feedback will help determine whether we accomplish that goal.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The syllabus and course plan

The syllabus and the course plan for the entire semester are in final draft form. I have a plan for each 3-hour class from August 25 through December 10, knowing full well that the plan will have to be adjusted. But at least there is road map for where I plan to go and some milestones to mark progress. I suspect the students--and their interaction with the technology--will take some of my plans in an entirely unexpected direction. The learning objectives will serve as course corrections (pun unintended).

Our University is fortunate to have a Teaching and Faculty Support Center, sponsors of the annual Teaching Retreat designed to "facilitate and assist faculty with pedagogical issues." The 2009 retreat was the first week in August and provided me with ample (and timely) opportunity to review my course plans and syllabus for improvement opportunities, of which there were many.

Tomorrow is the first day of training on the new tech tools installed in the Collaborative Learning Classroom (the official name). I am, once again, reminded how our students feel when asked to walk into a new semester, new course, new instructor, new expectations--and it's not an altogether pleasant feeling.