My teaching paradigm

Recently, I’ve been exploring social constructionist ideas in research and my personal life. I agree with Kenneth Burke, that life is a reflection of symbol use. Burke goes on to say that when the heart stops beating, the symbol-user stops…..using, effectively embracing a physical reality.

I would not make this distinction. In my upcoming teaching philosophy draft, I will make an important note about my ideas that reality is only what we agree it is, and that students often have the ability to teach instructors how to see old problems through new lenses.

Perhaps this paradigm would not work for my colleagues in the physical sciences, but in my understanding of rhetoric, communication and language it is key to some of the claims I will be making in my master’s thesis. What do my pedagogy classmates think of this?

Tethered to Technology

On the course CN site, I posted a video about Google Glass, an augmented reality technology that is always working for those wearing the glasses. Users just say “Ok Glass, take photo [or other command here].” It is a device capable of web surfing, making phone calls, sending messages and video, and about anything else current bulky laptops do.

This is life enhanced by technology rather than subsumed by it as discussed in the article from this week’s reading on taking a digital sabbath. In the end, these technologies are a method of delivery for knowledge. With all communication technologies there are appropriate and irresponsible uses. What matters is purpose. Do we use technology to escape or enhance reality?

Digital Student Responsibility

This week I’ve been considering a change for the next semester of my teaching experience.

My course design requires students to keep track of dates when online assignments are due. Although I give them all the information in class before sending them off to do online work, some have suggested that reminders would help so that they didn’t miss any more assignments.
In our age of embracing the digital world, how much responsibility falls to the students? Maybe I need to strike a better balance.
I don’t want students to fall through the cracks in my course design and get bad grades for that instead of actually not being proficient in the course material. When I’m unable to let a student make up an assignment that they forgot about, it really stinks, but I have to be fair to others.
Fellow graduate students– please advise.

PBL Assignments and Inquiry

This week we read an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Setting Students’ Minds on Fire.” I really enjoyed this article and discussion of how to make students care in classes.

I recently read a book titled “Teaching with your mouth shut” by Donald L. Finkel. This book encouraged such PBL methods. Finkel’s approach was on sparking what he termed “inquiry” in the students, so that this inquiry drove classes and the teacher could settle into a role that was more institutional in nature. If presented with a problem that students really care about, they will do whatever research may be required to give an adequate answer. This motivation seemed to be present in the examples provided by Mark C. Carnes in the Chronicle article.

It seems this may be the type of PBL assignment that gets students learning effectively, but doesn’t have them ripping their hair out about group work and Google Docs. There are good and bad PBL assignments, and maybe sometimes what PBL proponents may see as “studenting negativity” may in fact be legitimate concerns about the classroom environment. Surely the rotten apple doesn’t spoil the bunch, but maybe some hardworking students are feeling neglected from being told to do blind group work instead of interacting with a respected educator.

My feelings on PBL assignments are not set in stone and I welcome criticism!

Some consensus on PBL at VT and a compromise

Over the past few weeks I have been speaking with students in passing about problem based learning (PBL), and group projects. I have found that students do not like these assignments just as I did not as an undergraduate. Two students at VT told me about their hectic final semester that included group projects in the majority of their classes. Some of these projects work better than others, but they agreed that it is necessary to have meeting time in class in order for these tasks to work.

After watching the video posted to the course scholar site, I believe that PBL is only one of many ways of advancing higher on Bloom’s learning taxonomy.

Not quite the food pyramid

When looking at this list, I know that it was only during challenging individual introspective assignments that I was able to get beyond memorization into creation and critique. Other methods deserve to be explored before heralding PBL as the only way to get students up this ladder. It may save everyone a lot of headache.