Moreover, Doug Johnson, who ALWAYS pushes my thinking and seldom lets me be sloppy, asked in the comments whether our programs should have a goal other than helping teachers [and students?] meet their goals. Yikes! I've always seen that as one of my main raisons d'etre!
So get to the point, Jeri.
Lankes wrote, in a discussion of the Fayetteville Free Library's FabLab:
While we sit here and debate when we deliver our lectures, or how long they are, or in what channels; the real flip is already occurring. The lecture? The long form or short form, oratory...No, the real flip is faculty are losing control. The real flip is from us thinking we have the content and we are just debating the delivery [method] to the truth that we need to relearn the content continuously right along side our students.Now, I need to give some backstory to show why this really struck me.
Anyone who has tried this knows getting students to watch a video at home is no easier than getting them to do their homework; if they then show up to class without the necessary groundwork, it makes it very difficult to proceed with the day's activities. That said, my plan was to make all of my lessons digital, then structure library sessions around helping students as they actively researched.
Here's a question: How many of you, when teaching research strategies, have a prescribed set of lessons that you use? I certainly do. I may use all or only some of them, depending on the situation, but I always tend to run students through basics--pre-search, framing a research question, documenting sources, etc. Then I stand up there, droning on through the slides or Prezis, before helping students apply the ideas to their own research.
Originally, I planned to use my digitized lessons as 1) back up for students who needed a review or missed the original presentation or 2) as an alternative for teachers who didn't want to book me, but wanted to give students access to the information. How progressive of me!
Do you see where this is heading? Virtual or face-to-face, these are still very control-oriented. While going digital can give the impression of shifting one's focus, nevertheless, these still have info literate me telling students what I think they need to know, based on what I think they already know. All I've changed is the delivery method.
Me, me, me. And, I will add, Aack!
Here's my new thinking:
Obviously, students need to be at the center here.
1) Create an online self-assessment for students to take prior to any research project. It could be a series of specific questions designed to show what students already know about the process. Anything they miss, they know they need to seek further instruction.
2) Rather than the longish (15 minutes or so) series of lessons I originally planned--and, really, what the heck was I thinking?) create a series of 5 minute or less very specific lessons addressing each of the elements in the survey. Based on their self-assessment, students will know specifically which video to watch/review.
3) Create a digital checklist and prompts for them to reference as they research.
4) Library time then consists of students actively engaged in the necessary stages of the research process, with me doing a quick 5 minute group assessment of their plans for the lesson, then going around to guide, prompt and question.
In one sense, this puts students in the driver's seat for deciding what they need to know. They self-assess and watch only the videos they feel they need to.
Highly individualized! Students access information when and as they need it (i.e. just-in-time).
Flexible. Available 24/7, and if there are any gaps, students can address those, and even create their own tutorials to add to the collection.
At some point--upper elementary? middle school?-- I do think students need actual lessons. They don't know this stuff intuitively. Maybe this model is better as reinforcement, rather than initial instruction?
How to make students accountable for actually watching the videos? Most of them aren't exactly intrinsically motivated!
Will these become too "rote"? There are serious drawbacks to the Khan Academy school of video lessons, and I need to think deeply about how to make these lessons both skill based AND reflective. They need engage students considering both their research topic and their own methodology/research attitudes. How in the world do you make videos interactive and participatory? I have Camtasia Studio, and the windows version allows Flash-based surveys, but the Mac version doesn't. Moreover, iPads/Pods don't work well with Flash, anyway.
As a corollary to that--and referencing Lankes' quotation above, is this still too much of me in control, since I decide what lessons to provide? Or am I now being way too paranoid? If I encourage students to add their own content, or suggest ways to redesign, is that participatory enough?
How to create an actual community-wide conversation about the nature of student's research? We're an IB school, so 10th graders will have a personal project and 11th/12th graders a 4,000 word extended essay. The school also uses Moodle--maybe create online forums for needs/discussions?
As to Doug's question. I think I'll discuss that in another post. It deserves its own space.