Monday, December 28, 2009

More random bullets, or denial isn't just a river in Egypt

  • I'm clinging desperately to a few remaining sabbatical days (think: by my fingernails while hanging off a cliff over an abyss that is the beginning of the new semester).
  • At some point, the syllabus for the new course I've never taught before has to stop being like a jigsaw puzzle and become like a mosaic. I have to stop moving the pieces of the course around and glue them down so that the syllabus can be copied.
  • In "Hybrid Education 2.0" over at IHE, Candace Thille of the Open Learning Initiative takes a few more swipes at what she sees as the dead horse/shibboleth of the lecture-only format. Apparently Carnegie Mellon has a new shiny way of teaching statistics and logic online (funded by Gate$$ fund$$) with an in-person assist from professors discussing the material according to student needs. The online logic course has only a "cursory level of instructor contact," though, and the instructors assigned to that are "glorified graders." What I want to know isn't being tested thus far: if a student takes Mr. Roboto's section of online logic in which choices are circumscribed, is he or she going to have the advanced (creative) thinking skills necessary for success in upper-division courses?


Anonymous said...

It seems to me there are some topics that might be taught ideally with techno-assist glorified graders and where studdents would benefit from the interactivity and one-on-one instruction of computers rather than group settings with professors. Math at some levels. Science in some fields. But logic and critical thinking and analysis and all manner of learning scenarios can't be memorized and scantroned to understanding and should not, in my opinion, be taught via mediated, nonhuman information-processing sources. Don't get me wrong...I don't dismiss memorization and scantronning for appropriate fields---I'm a former molecular biology type who sees the value to this Gates-y model for a lot of the necessary information in biological and chemical courses.
I welcome technological and pedagogical methods that will involve my students more than "just" lecturing (which I don't think anyone does, outside weeder courses at huge Universities). But I don't see any value to reducing people with doctorates in their field to computer-plus, warm-calculator roles in the classroom.
(Good luck with the syllabus spackling. I'd tell you to play fast and loose with a syllabus that doesn't ever really *have* to be nailed down by various models of effective instruction, but I'm so not that person and need everything nailed down way before the semester starts so I can sleep at night. So good luck.)

Anonymous said...

I'm having syllabus anxiety about a new course, too. Just can't wrap my brain around it. It's slightly out of my "area" so it seems harder than normal to envision.

Good luck piecing your together. I'm scratching my head over here, too! :)