Tuesday, July 3, 2012

That would make me a fire fighter?

Last week, I noticed for the first time since being on the Web that I feel overwhelmed with It All-- not the information as much as the complexity of connecting all the pieces where I'm involved. I have always told people, "Dive in! Just start!" That's still good advice, I think, but as someone who likes to bring people into this world, I sure need to do some fast re-thinking about how to manage the complexity. 

As someone who thinks a lot about how the Web can help transform teaching and learning, I thought I'd better put my money where my mouth is and make my own learning process in our class transparent. So I started this blog. I hope it will offer a model of teaching and learning that might help students; as a writer and writing teacher, I know I should always write with my students, so this keeps me accountable to my beliefs; ultimately, I do it because I'm selfish-- I know blogging will help me synthesize what I know I'll encounter through our class. 

It seems to me that the structure of our class, Literacies and Technologies in the Secondary English Classroom, is wrestling with the weight of this new complexity. I'm thinking hard about how to streamline the connections between nodes-- right now, we're working with a wiki, blogs, RSS. Not bad for a group of people who just met yesterday, and amazing for the number of people who are coming to the Web feeling a little nervous. I applaud you! 

This is the first time I'm running this class with this configuration of technology. Usually, I use a social media site that has different pieces connected within the site. Each member has a blog there, there's a shared discussion forum where people can start and participate in discussions, people can upload videos to share, etc. This model has been great-- it definitely makes it easier for people to dive in. It also creates the chance for the development of a great sense of cohesion in the class. 


The Web is not this organized. I've been concerned that a one-stop social media site affords a class short-term comfort potentially (probably) at the cost of long-term learning. A one-stop shop also reinforces the idea that the teacher is THE Teacher. Through the structure of the site, The Teacher controls the flow, direction, and development of the site and the class. We'll never get away from that, I think, but dissolving that infrastructure makes it easier for a student, you, to feel not like you have something to bring to the table, but that you have a responsibility to do so. This is a microcosm of the Web.  So I went with a course infrastructure that I imagined would better prepare you for a long and evolving life on the Web.  

Now we work together to tweak the infrastructure we have so that it better meets our needs, as individuals and as a class. 

To that end, 
  • There are notification settings on the wiki-- you indicate when/if you want to be notified of changes to the site via email. Be sure you set them to receive at least one notification of changes a day. You can also set it to receive notifications more often. (Or not at all-- not recommended.) 
  • Essential links now appear in the Sidebar.
  • I've created an Assignments page. I think it'll be easier to keep them all in one place rather than stashed on each class page; we can put a link to the assignment page on each class page. (I'll show you how on Monday.) If you have questions about any aspect of the Assignment, bring it up in the comments section at the bottom of the assignments page. 

Here's what it all looks like:

Here's a closer look at the Sidebar & Notification sections:

I hope this helps-- have a great day!

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