Thanks for the feedback classmates! In this post I am supposed to respond and make changes as appropriate. The feedback here did not really suggest much in the way of changes so I will respond to it as it is. I will also include some comments from the students I interviewed as I think that some of their comments show gaps in my thinking and plans.
One theme in the feedback was that I had a good use of Web 2.0 tools in my planned activity. From a broad perspective I think this is true. The literature and features of the tools clearly show the potential, and some pitfalls, for the formation of a collaborative community. However, I feel that I have not yet bridged the gap between what the general concepts in what the literature is saying and the context specific voices of the students. For example, I had planned some cognitive scaffolding in the paraphrase skills, some technical scaffolding in lab training sessions, and affective scaffolding by being encouraging, socially present and making colourful posters. In the interviews students were not sure of the scope of the proposed activity and talked of it as a programme or website. They still talked of it as something to ‘use’ rather than a place to ‘be’. Therefore what I am missing in my scaffolding is something relating to student expectations about how it would work. I will need to convey the idea that the learning can come not only from the use of the posted content, but through the supportive interactions between students to create ways of deepening and expressing their understanding. I’m thinking of designing a training activity to get this point across before training them on how to use the features of the Twiki.
I have already noticed some extra motivational factors that students pointed out in the interviews that might help me to encourage others – for example, when asked if she would be comfortable participating online, one student pointed out that she could understand things better when she saw how other students wrote about something. Maybe having some quotes like this from other students on the Twiki might help students to encourage each other to use it rather than just me. That “What’s in it for me?” page could include more input from the students.
Some feedback comments said the activity would be good to see in practice and I have been tempted to go with it largely as it is planned. However, I will meet with the course teacher to make a rough idea of how it will go, but also leave flexibility for the students to influence the design. This is challenging for me because I like to plan ahead, and traditional teaching practices often encourage the teacher to be in charge. But to make something belong to the community and reduce the traditional power relations, I think it has to be built more by the community itself.
The concept map was described as detailed and complex. I think this is a positive comment, but I do wonder about the complexity of concept maps. There is a balance between simplicity and ‘map shock’. If things are reduced to far the map can look simple, but it covers over the problems that an educator needs to consider. For example, to say that use of a tool leads to greater communication sound intuitively appealing, but without further detail on what process leads to that communication, then the plan can be incomplete, an ultimately ineffective. Even more damaging is if the students are then blamed for it. I think I will need to listen very carefully to the students and let them scaffold me into understanding what they need and build it from there.
Shortening the presentation time would be easy enough to do – if I know in advance what my time allowance is, then I will speak to it.
I have still not solved the problem of how to motivate the stronger students who in helping others do extra work, but for no credit. That’s one of the up coming questions I’m going to ask them!
Well SLT Tweeties, it’s been a journey, and only the start I think. Best of luck with your projects, and feel free to stay in touch!