The Door v2 – Class Two

September 5, 2007

This week’s class went pretty smoothly despite a couple of students reporting that they were pretty freaked out about the instructional methods. However, they were willing to do it (after several reassurances that it really isn’t that bad) and there was actually one student who added, which complicated the group scheme a little, but we worked it out by making it a problem to be solved by the group to which she was assigned.

Instructor Job Aid for Class Two, Week Two

1. Review the policies again and locations of course web sites

You can never do this often enough and if you have any new students, they’ll appreciate it. Get them to tell you the web address for the Moodle if they remember it. They usually do.
2. Ning

I use Ning.com, but if you have another web forum-type space where they can share their thoughts, etc. and can set up group spaces, feel free to use what you like. Ning is nice because it is done in AJAX, so is fluid, allows file uploads including PPT, Word, videos, and audio files. You can create Forums, use the blog feature to do instant updates, and communicate with the whole class using the Broadcast message feature which will e-mail them the notice. It functions as a smoother functioning supplement to the Moodle, though Moodle allows fast grading, assignment submission, etc. the same way as WebCT. Have them each sign up for a Ning you should have set up before class. I also set up individual Nings for each Role (Leader, etc.), so that I can communicate just with them if I want to do so. Also, have each group Leader for the first Task create their own Ning for their Group and have the other members join.

3. Review the instructions from Hester and Sharron about the First Task

This one is meant to have lots of scaffolding from the instructor and within the task directions so that they can get accustomed to solving problems in this way. The expectations should be pretty clear WITHOUT being overly directive, so leave HOW they present their solution open-ended as well as requirements for the depth of the information they must include. Answer questions clearly at this point. Later on, you’ll be more evasive as you remove the scaffolding during the remaining learning tasks.

4. Give the Researchers the Underw0rld.net/door link

Don’t give it to the rest of the group, just the Researchers. Last semester it took three weeks for the first group to puzzle out the first game component. This semester, it took one group 40 minutes. Be prepared.

5. Get them into Second Life

Second Life is set up on the machines in 310 and 308. Have them sign up for FREE accounts and go through the initial tutorial. Stress that this is a COMMUNICATION TOOL and does NOT have to be used. Note other technology communication tools they should also be using (e.g. e-mail, chat, etc.). Tell them that they need to complete the SL assignments in the Moodle by next week.

6. Review the goals for the next week

Review the due date for Hester’s Task and answer any relevant questions.

7. Let them loose

You are now the facilitator and challenger of poorly constructed knowledge, not the teacher. Allow them to puzzle things out and provide support without providing direction. Problem-based learning is HARD to do well, because it is easier to go back into direct instruction mode. Refer them to resources, get their peers to help them, and give strong feedback on products to improve the next solutions, but DO NOT be overly explicit.

Over the rest of the semester, you should be REMOVING scaffolds not adding to them. Don’t let them wear you down and give up, going back over to the Dark Side.

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