My friend Angie commented on my last post, and I started to comment on her comment. Then I decided that I was writing enough to warrant a whole post.
My students usually have very limited understanding of technology. Part of what I do is teach them how to create PowerPoints, how to use library databases, etc. I take this part of my job very seriously. We are using Moodle this year to do hybrid or blended classes because it is important that they learn how to do more with computers than email and games. I feel good about the fact that my students leave me with the computer skills and experience they need to succeed in their other classes.
I try to give my students options; tomorrow one student will be showing us a movie he made. But another is creating his first PowerPoint. I encourage them to stretch themselves and their technological expertise. And they never cease to amaze me.
Angie talks about consulting the students about how to achieve the goals of the class . That is something I don't do enough of. I would like to try to change that this next semester. My students, even though they are adults, are not used to making any decisions or having any real input into their education. This sometimes makes it difficult for them to think about it deeply. And that is my biggest frustration. I have been doing a lot of "writing as thinking" with them this semester in an attempt to get them to go a little deeper, but it has not been tremendously successful. That does not mean, though, that I should give up on it.
I would like to get them excited about writing, and I think technology could help us do that. But not if the basic assignments are not exciting. I would like to experiment with having them produce alternatives to the research paper, for instance. Maybe a wiki. Maybe a blog. Maybe webtexts that are written for the Internet rather than print. The important thing is that the students learn how to do the research, how to think critically about the information they find, and how to write about it. The format doesn't matter. Could I offer a variety of options? Could each student do something different? Why not? I am the only thing keeping us from doing it that way. Am I up to it? Why not?