Monday, May 4, 2009

Questions to Ponder

In April, I attended the eLCC conference and presented with Alice Bedard-Voorhees on New Designs for Assessment. Alice is the person I credit most for giving me an opportunity to teach online and for inspiring me to try innovative teaching tools and concepts. At the conference, I am pleased to share that Alice won the eLCC Faculty of the Year award. You might visit Alice’s blog at for inspiration.

I would like to share two questions that Alice asks that always encourage me to think differently. We all have students who are more difficult to manage. Sometimes students have bad attitudes about the course or fellow classmates. Sometimes they are frustrated with us about the type of assignments given or the technology. Sometimes they plagiarize. The question that Alice always asked me as my Chair and later Academic Dean was “How can we get back to the learning?” Alice empowered me to find a way to have a successful outcome for the student and class rather than getting stuck and frustrated by what wasn’t working. Not only did this help me not take the student’s problems personally, but it also helped me brainstorm ways to avoid the same problems in the upcoming semesters. By always thinking about how to best facilitate learning among my current students, I find that each semester I am more effective and patient. The question reminds me that students are there to learn and its my job to help them.

In a CCCOnline training webinar and at our presentation at eLCC, Alice posed this question for students. “What could you do, use, or create to demonstrate your learning for outcome X?” This question opens a dialogue between the instructor and student to select the method of delivery to demonstrate their knowledge. Students might choose to do something in Second Life, use a Web 2.0 tool like audacity, create a slide show, or write a traditional paper. The question allows students to develop their own assignment to achieve an objective or competency. In correspondence and cooperation with the instructor, a rubric for evaluation of the assignment can be developed and gives the student ultimate ownership of their learning. Imagine developing assignments and rubrics through open communication between the students either one to one, instructor to group, or class to instructor. What a way to focus on the individual learning and outcomes in a course!

No comments: