Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer, projects, and changing focus

Week 5 had a project-based learning theme, with Tom Robb as the guest moderator. WebQuests were the second topic - a specific form of project-based learning. Since this is summer, it's much more difficult to have the "aha" moment where teachers try something and see that it works. We'll have to wait until school starts up again, when I hope I'll hear about the different techniques that participants in the course tried.

In the meantime, there were a number of good project ideas. Only one person actually put together a web quest on Zunal so far, which was a bit disappointing. Again, working in the summer may just make all sorts of adventuring more difficult.

Week 6 is working on learning styles, alternative assessment, and rubrics. These are all things that were in the Shaping course, so they seem pretty familiar. Adding a technology component is what's been more challenging. I'm still working on getting everyone to move from abstract to concrete - not just summarizing theory but describing what they actually will try in their classes. Everyone seems well on board with the idea of pair and small group work - a positive change in practice that may have come with the Shaping course. The concept of appealing to different learning styles also seems clear, though I'm less sure how much of it is actually implemented in classes.

All of these are elements that can lead to a shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered to learner-directed learning. We seem to be moving toward learner-centered in mindset, but we've still got some distance to go to achieve learner-directed learning. This is true not only in what the participants are teaching, but also in this course. I'm starting to see discussions where participants are routinely sharing their ideas about teaching practice with each other and guiding the discussion. I'm delighted to see the sharing in blog posts and on the course wiki, as well. It's not easy to create rubrics and tasks, then hand control over to learners do the work and assess themselves and each other.

Perhaps it's time for a self-assessment activity in the course... something to think about implementing for next week. An interim project report might be good as part of that, too, asking participants to answer a question like, "What would you do with something new that you've learned in this course, something that uses technology resources in a way different from what you've done before?" Needs a bit more thought - and any comments would be welcome.


No comments: