Thursday, 18 September 2014

Why - and How?

I am in awe of the opportunities for reflection that are offered in watching the Connected Courses video by Mike Wesch, Mimi Ito, Helen Keegan . I find am watching this video a few minutes at a time because I keep having to go offline and think. Thank you for the great insights! 

I identified with Mike Wesch’s comment about teaching a required course to learners of different backgrounds and levels of preparation. I teach at a Canadian Community College. Many of my students can be described as non-traditional. I thought I taught a course on how to be a better student, it turns out the course is more about how to be a better person. I have taught this same course back-to-back, often in multiple sections. Every class is different. I have learned one thing. The most important moment for the people in that class are when I stop teaching and allow learning. 

One issue that I face is difficulty with assessment. In the game titled “How to be Better Person” everyone starts and ends in different places, so assessments that are content oriented are less useful. In fact so often much of real learning is not visible or externally discernible. 

  • How can you measure an increase in confidence? 
  • How do we measure a process of analyzing the pros and cons of risk taking? 
  • Can you tell when someone is in the process of developing resilience? Sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t.

I also teach horseback riding, and have for the past 15 years. When I teach riding I focus on the students goals and build their skills towards those goals. I coach,  inform, ask questions, and present exercises which allow learning to happen. One great instructor I had along the way told me there are three instructors in the ring: you, the horse and the exercise. I think the student should also be included. 

One technique  I use in both riding and post-secondary teaching is  Bloom’s Mastery learning . The technique of providing feedback and the opportunity to try exercises again.  It works. However it is also a lot of work, and I don’t know if it is scalable on the level of an Open Course.

One question I have is how to get that feel of coaching  into a more scalable form?  

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