Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘course

I object to end-of-course student evaluations, particularly if the course is, say, only two sessions deep. Heck, they can happen at the end of a half semester (after about six sessions) or a full semester (about double the number of sessions) and I would still object.

This not because I got poor results when I was a teaching faculty member. Quite the opposite. I had flattering scores that were often just shy of perfect tens in a variety of courses I used to facilitate.

No, I object to such evaluations because they rarely are valid instruments. While they might seem to be about the effectiveness of the course, they are not. These evaluations are administrative and ranking tools for deciding which courses and faculty to keep.

Course evaluations are also not free from bias. Even if the questions are objective, the participants of the questionnaire are not. One of the biggest problems with end-of-course evaluations are that they can be biased against women instructors [1] [2] [3].

I would rather focus on student learning processes and evidence of learning. Such insights are not clearly and completely observable from what are essentially perception surveys.

If administrators took a leaf from research methodology, they might also include classroom observations, interviews, discourse analysis (e.g, of interactions), and artefact analysis (e.g., of lesson plans, resources, assignments, and projects).

But these are too much trouble to conduct, so administrators settle for shortcuts. Make no mistake, such questionnaires can be reliable when repeated over time, but they are not valid for what they purport to measure.

Some might say that end-of-course evaluations are a necessary evil. If so, they could be improved to focus on processes and products of learning. This article by Faculty Focus has these suggestions.

Article by Faculty Focus has these suggestions for questionnaires that focus on processes and products of learning.

Are there any takers?

Most students do not have insights into how much work goes into designing lessons, preparing materials, and developing evaluations. Just the administrative aspects might surprise them.

Teachers-to-be and future faculty need to be aware what awaits them administratively. For a Masters course that I design and facilitate, the time between initial notification and the implementation of the first class is five months. The ICT modules for inclusive education I just facilitated had a runway of seven months. A set of workshops I conduct at another institute of higher learning prepares documentation one semester ahead. This means I have about three months of preparation time.
 

 
Why are the runways months long? Administrative offices can often be bureaucratic. Your parcel might be passed from one person to another to their own tune. Once they receive the parcel, they might sit on it or go on leave. Speaking of leave, administrative staff often work on their own calendars (for example, financial years) and not on the ebb and flow of university schedules.

The exciting part of the teaching and learning journey happens when a course or workshop takes off. But before that happens, there is a lot of taxiing on the ground.

I have spent the last few Saturdays facilitating a Masters course either in the morning or the afternoon. With just a handful of students, I implement a studio approach.

Reality Bytes: A primer on VR, AR, MR, and XR

Reality Bytes II: A primer on AI, CT, and CSCL.

I still do short presentations, primers if you will, of some content. But the latter half of the course depends on learners creating content, sharing it, and teaching one another.

Why take that approach? I share three image quotes that explain my approach.

No one knows everything, but everyone knows something.

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.— Alexandra K. Trenfor

To teach is the learn twice.

It is the day before I facilitate a new Masters course on technology for teaching and learning. I have prepared the minimum of slides so that I will do the minimum of lecturing.

My goal is to facilitate learning and I need to set and maintain that expectation. Here are just two of the less than ten slides I have.

Cooperating and peer teaching.

Walled garden.

Enough said?

I am certain these approaches will generate cognitive dissonance and discussion. These are vital ingredients in the pot of learning. I hope that my co-learners embrace cooking instead of simply consuming.

In this week’s episode of Crash Course’s video on information and digital literacies, host John Green focused on the authority and perspective of sources.


Video source

The authority of an author or a source might be determined by finding out about its:

  • Professional background
  • Processes used to create information
  • Systems in place to catch and correct mistakes

Authoritative sources do not guarantee that their information is correct all the time. When they make mistakes, they admit and correct them openly.

The perspective of an author or a source needs to be gleaned from its orientation, opinions, or analyses. Perspective colours choice of words and the direction of influence.


Video source

The video above is a preview of a new Crash Course that will be coming soon.

I am looking forward to it as much as the next major blockbuster. While movies entertain, John Green and company have a way of educating that pulls learners in.

I am one of the 8+ million subscribers to their channel. You should be, too, if you have any role in developing information literacy.

Mainstream schools are winding down for the end-of-year vacation and universities see this semester coming to a close. I am ramping up as I prepare a new course next semester.

I have lots of notes and resources, but they are linked by two principles that have guided my design and facilitation for almost two decades.

The danger of lectures is that they create the illusion of teaching for teachers, and the illusion of learning for learners.

The first is the focus on the learner and learning. Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown put it best in their book, A New Culture of Learning:

For most of the twentieth century our educational system has been built on the assumption that teaching is necessary for learning to occur. Accordingly, education has been seen as a process of transferring information from a higher authority (the teacher) down to the student. This model, however, just can’t keep up with the rapid rate of change in the twenty-first century. It’s time to shift our thinking from the old model of teaching to a new model of learning.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

The other follows an issue summed up nicely in this tweet:

Closed access and administrative control are antithetical to learner exploration and empowerment. As difficult as being open and embracing uncertainty is, it is more rewarding in the long term.


http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code


Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets

Archives

Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: