Thursday, September 03, 2009

More on Teaching with Blogs

class survey
We've finished our second week of class (the sessions are on Monday and Wednesday). After class concludes I've asked the students to complete a brief survey using the Forms tool in Google Spreadsheet. There are five forced response questions to rate the session and a paragraph question so they can submit comments. These are the same questions I came up with a year ago in the post Schon and Gawande, which were inspired by the Apgar scoring system for measuring the well being of a newborn that Gawande writes about. At this point I'm not trying to convert these into a numerical score. I'm not sure the students yet understand what the last two items are asking about so the numbers wouldn't mean much anyway. But by eyeballing the histograms of the results, you can get a sense of how much the students are on the same page with each other and how the session went for them.

I should add that the students get no course credit for doing this. But since most of them are already online checking out the course blog, it isn't much of intrusion that way. The first time 15 out of 18 completed it. The reviews were mixed. I think the students who gave positive reviews were being polite. The students who gave negative reviews made some pretty caustic comments. On the substance they were probably right. I wasn't very happy with the session either. We couldn't get a conversation started. Students did talk up. But they didn't respond to each other. So I made some changes to the way the class would interact for the Wednesday session. I'm hopeful that the act of making change in response to feedback from them will keep them participating in the survey. The second one is still underway. At present we have a little more than half the class who have completed it.

The students talked a lot more in the the Wednesday session. I bit my tongue a few times to keep from talking up, so they'd work things through for themselves. This may be better for them since they take ownership, but they didn't push on the content the way I wanted them to. So I wrote up a post to fill in what was omitted. I doubt that is good way to get closure to the discussion. I wonder whether I'll see bits and pieces of the Wednesday discussion in their reflections that are due on Friday evening. Of the few reflections that have already been done, I've not seen those sort of connections. I'll continue to push for it. The technology itself doesn't solve that issue. Let's see if the students can figure that out for themselves.

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