After learning about so many different ways to use technology with our students during the initial course I decided to try and do four main things differently:
- I prepared my basic curricula but asked my students what it was that they wanted to learn in my class (horrifying and beautiful experience).
- I created a group for all of my students (including those that didn’t get a spot in the list but come anyway) on Facebook.
- Asked (for the first time ever) my students to be more involved in the class. I had 30 classes scheduled and 30 students. Each one of them has been instructed to be “in charge” of one class: pay attention to details, record the main ideas and generate a meme with the most poignant concept of each class to share on Facebook with everyone else.
- Had them study for a test as if it was a regular one and then let them answer it in small groups (as a way to boost collaborative learning).
I am also embarking on the biggest challenge of my career: writing an electronic book with my students about interculturality, the main topic of my course.
On taking them into consideration to design the course. The first day I met the group I was unsure on how to deal with the new concepts I had learned in the course. I did a quick check on the tools the guys used everyday with a baseline quiz. It turns out they all use smart cellphones and they all have access to internet at some point during the day.
They asked me to avoid giving them reading materials in printed paper and asked for the PDFs instead. They had lots of questions about lots of different things. Here’s a photo I took with the Ipad of their inquiries:
I adapted some of the lessons to make sure we covered all of the suggested content. I must confess I was extremely excited with the questions and very nervous about implementing a new system to configure my course (I am usually very set on my ways).
It is working beautifully. I will end this course at the beginning of December but so far, so good.
On creating the online community. Oh this is so much fun!! It was like magic. I asked for a volunteer to generate a group on Facebook with all of the people participating of it. My class ended at 11 am and by 6pm I had the entire class added to a closed group (they asked to make it that way). I uploaded the schedule, the tracking documents for the progress of the class, cheat sheets on how to have an excellent experience with the suggested readings, we had a nice profile picture and were fired up and ready to go!
The guys have been extremely active. We are in the classroom 4 hours a week but we interact absolutely every day online. They post videos, comment on events, share information about activities related to our contents and their memes of course. I used that same platform to get feedback using the “questions” function of it and it was very interesting to find out what they thought about the whole thing. Usually I get feedback at the very end of the course and I don’t even know who said what and why. This time we can have a conversation about the way things are going.
We have shared over 20 files on the group, more than 35 links to events, readings or even videos and movies. There are over 50 photos shared with the group with more than 300 interactions. It is really exciting to be online with them and learn what is it that they enjoy, understand their humor and use their language. I now realize I never knew the meaning of a “like” for example. Here some screen captures:
On having them be part of the “dark side”. I just never realized how separated our roles were as teachers and students. Everything the teacher does is foreign to the students and vice versa. I asked them to come take a look from my seat, pay close attention to how things happen in class and do some of the tracking for all of us. Their main tool is the use of memes to summarize some particularly intense or interesting moments in the classroom.
Here are some examples:
On having tests. Well, they were mortified, as usual. I gave them a guide to work from with tons of questions without the answers and told them to organize themselves. It was beautiful. I posted the questions to the group and a few hours after that they had a google doc with all of them and were asking for their email addresses to take a couple of questions each and compare answers. They were doing the task before I even asked for it. Among all of them got the answers to all of the questions, corrected one another and helped the ones that were lost! I was delighted.
A week later, they arrived to the classroom, I was very serious. I told them there were 4 different types of tests to avoid cheating. Gave them 20 minutes to answer and they were complaining and stressed. After the time was up I asked them to get together with other people that did not have the same type of test and get/give help. Needless to say, they all got excellent scores.
Here are some screen captures of that process:
As I mentioned before, I got feedback from my students both in the classroom and online. In terms of the materials they told me they were too many pages to read from one class to another (about a 100) and they wanted me to reconsider the pace we were having to work on them. I did (when asking around with other teachers they told me it was incredible that they were reading that amount for the class). They liked the topics but they usually have 6 other courses going on at the same time.
I asked them about using Facebook online and the answers were strikingly positive. I left the options for the answer open and I didn’t get any indication of disapproval or unwillingness to participate. All the opposite. I was clear to say that they could be totally honest as their feedback was not going to hurt their grading.
Here the results:
I learned that not all of them know how to setup the notifications and lose important/ interesting information some times.
As for the use of memes, the opinions were divided among those that don’t care about them and those that like them:
I thought they liked them as much as I did, I was surprised to learn they were not very excited about them… I mean, half is not bad, but I was expecting more positive answers.
And lastly, on writing the electronic book, God, they really love that idea, and so do I. But it is so hard. At the beginning I thought the whole academia would be excited about the idea and in my fantasies I had lots and lots of support, resources and help from all the publishing professors, but we haven’t been that lucky.
Apparently nobody has ever done anything like this in the Centro Universitario de Ciencias de la Salud. People that publish, publish on their own or with other people in the academia… but I hate having the guys do just busy work. I want them to make an impact and so do they.
Look at their answers:
I am exploring platforms like http://www.fastpencil.com/ http://www.bookrix.com/ and http://pressbooks.com/ but a lot of my students don’t speak English and find the directions hard to navigate. I am doing a lot of the style/grammar/spelling corrections and it is overwhelming. We are getting a book out. I just need to find out if anyone has done anything like this successfully somewhere so I can get some feedback… Any ideas??