Tag Archives: higher education

Book Review: SoTL

McKinney, Kathleen. Enhancing Learning Through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The challenges and joys of juggling. Anker Publishing, 2007.

This semester I joined a faculty learning community that read McKinney’s book about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). I have a few projects right now that develop from the ideas of SoTL work, namely improving teaching and assignment design to improve learning.

Overall, this is a great book for interdisciplinary discussions on the value of SoTL work. It provides a significant number of resources and ideas – some organized by discipline to help readers from various areas find what they need. If you already value teaching and learning – as many teaching institutions do – this book is a bit less helpful as many of the chapters are devoted to why SoTL should be valued. Despite that, I still recommend the book to those interested in SoTL.

What I realized reading the book is I want more ideas for assessing and measuring learning on a smaller scale – then I want to address any needs that appear. When designed into the overarching curriculum mini-assessments can improve larger assessments, meet learning outcomes, support good learning.

But with writing courses, the default measurement is writing (grades on essays, content analysis of essays). More writing (so students can update, modify, demonstrate learning) equals so much grading. Because of McKinney’s book I’m now exploring ways of making learning visible to students so they can measure their own learning – so they can demonstrate learning.

Of course I expect to have the usual student resistance. For students who think they are strong writers so English Composition isn’t necessary for them, for students who think they’ll never learn to write – asking them to think through and make visible their own learning will be a struggle. I’m hoping growth mindset research has some ideas for long-term support to help in these cases. But I’m also wondering how students will conceptualize a course on composition where they need to make visible and measure their own learning. How will they understand the value – how will this mesh with transfer theory – how will I measure and record this? So many questions.

If you’re interested in SoTL I recommend this book – I think there is value to the interdisciplinary approach. I read about SoTL approaches used in different disciplines that helped me consider new approaches in my own. McKinney also provides really useful resources for supporting SoTL across campuses, and for accessing discipline specific information. If you already value SoTL you may find some chapters repeat what you already believe – but they can still be valuable for considering how other disciplines value and measure teaching and learning that may spark some creative approaches in your own classroom.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under book review

No Such Thing as Bad Writers

I’ve been reading extensively in Digital Citizenship lately as I prepare for some new research projects, prepare my Media Literacy Institute on Digital Citizenship (more information here), and reconsider approaches in composition classrooms that could include more direct conversation on our social media/content creation use as digital citizenship. The goal for me has become the idea of digital citizenship as critical approach to technology and stewardship to support digital citizenship understanding by others.

So with these two approaches to thinking always at the forefront of my thinking, I read an Inside Higher Ed post on “Bad Writing“. While the blame is placed heavily on K-12’s required standardized tests that force the hands of educators – I think we need to stop calling this Bad Writing. Again – at the forefront of my thinking is this idea of stewardship, if we (educators/faculty) continue to have public conversations about how “kids today don’t write so good” that negativity will continue to be associated with writing. While there is plenty of evidence that standardized testing to measure writing ability requires very formulaic structure that has very little to do with the actual content of writing, scores are decent which means kids today write very well! For where they are measured!

This is the key for me – for where they are measure, how they are measured. When students come to my composition courses with my adapted Teaching for Transfer curriculum (shout out to #4c18 and my panel on this curriculum on Friday 3/16), they are asked to understand the interchange among discourse community, purpose, audience, and ethos. As the understanding develops through the theme (for me, remix) students begin to understand that certain discourse communities allow for certain arguments and analysis – purpose is not global it needs to match the argument within the discourse community AND be meaningful to the audience. I could go on and on – but the key here is – coming out of high school these students graduated and were admitted to college. They understood how to develop an argument on a standardized test that met the needs of their audience (the test grading service), and demonstrated their ability within the discourse community (K-12 education).

If I supported the idea that these students were bad writers i’m not allowing them agency over their successes so far. In fact – I’m denigrating their successes so far. I’m taking away the success they had at developing an argument for a discourse community. They are in college! They have succeeded. My job is to help them be successful at navigating the more nuanced discourse communities. I want to empower my students to recognize these communities and determine how to adjust their writing process accordingly. Because, let’s be honest, they’ll take a class from that one professor who cares more about spacing in APA citations than they do the content of writing (ahem….how is this different than the standardized test?). They’ll also need to understand their education and educational experiences so they craft themselves as strong employees to their internship supervisors and future employers – so they get the interviews, the jobs.

Again, I’m approaching life through positive development of digital citizenship and stewardship. We’re all already using technology. If I rage about the misuse of Twitter I’m accomplishing nothing – my students are just hearing more negativity (by the way, there is an interesting IHE post on citizens stepping back from social media sharing). They are sick of the negativity, so they tune it out. This – tuning out – that is dangerous for writing instruction. I don’t want students to tune out and not care about thinking and writing and learning and how all these will help them in their classes – their careers. So why would I approach the situation so negatively? It’s not working for cyberbullying campaigns (thanks Digital Citizenship theory) why would it work for teaching writing?

So I’m calling on al my readers (hello!) to consider their approaches to teaching, or studenting (there is not good word for this, hahahahaha), or citizenship as stewardship. I’m not just an eternal optimist arguing for positivity, I’m drawing on real data from digital citizenship studies that show positive approaches – stewardship – to digital citizenship supports better understanding and critical engagement with technology and what citizenship means in a global technology world. Let’s use that in composition studies – let’s use that with writing!

What would it mean to drop the conversations about “Bad Writing” and instead focus on the ways that students succeeded in writing, and the ways we (educators/instructors/researchers) can help students develop a richer understanding of writing (again TFT model here) for more successful writing for specific situations. Let’s actually make this happen and stop calling writing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ which confuses college students by removing their agency. Let’s say “Great work – you’re in college! Now, let’s start developing a richer understanding of writing so you don’t write a 5 paragraph essay for a discourse community – a course – where your audience will not approve of the stilted argument development and structure”.

Let’s approach the teaching of composition as stewards instead!

Leave a comment

Filed under pedagogy

eportfolios and badges

On Saturday I attended the full day workshop on ePortfolios at AAC&U. In several different sessions, and by several different speakers, the idea of using ‘badges’ to support student learning through eportfolios was mentioned.

While I use games in my classroom I’ve never found good integration points for badges – I always see them as behavior driven, or skill-based. I don’t think writing is a skill – I don’t think certifying students in FYC who earn a C or better as “FYC Writing Skill” would carry significant meaning/weight.

I think the mentioning (and it was mentioning not full panel discussions – more ‘here’s another way to use eportfolios, digital badges’) of badges was to add a layer of cool, to point to recent innovations and further digital connections – the idea really stuck with me as a framework for approaching eportfolio design as my institution. In focusing on developing an online graduate certificate program for writing, the goal is to clearly communicate to potential students (and employers) the value of this degree. This is where eportfolios is a great connection – they allow professional writing samples and reflection on learning to raise student awareness of their writing practices and their understanding of writing.

If badges are system ‘awards’ that ‘certify’ learning – how can these be integrated to better demonstrate and exemplify learning outcomes of the program in a way that both attracts students and communicates meaningful information to employers?

I currently (and have for a long time) play Words with Friends (the newer edition). This game awards badges for completing points in a week, for creating a specific number of words using difficult letters like J, Q, Z, etc. The app is designed to force me to click through badges (good UX design to raise awareness for a new award system!), but beyond some coins or help, these badges don’t have any meaning. For me, these types of badges dilute the meaning of meaningful badges because they offer nothing to the player. They don’t support game learning, they don’t support learning of new words (the dictionary attachment with definitions is a great addition for on-demand learning!). What is the value of these badges.

So as I move forward with my difficult question of considering how to design program learning outcomes as badges to support a portfolio project in a graduate certificate (hahahaha that is quite the goal for the next month), I want to draw from meaningless to craft meaningful.

I do think that translating program learning outcomes to badges, then asking students to understand the learning outcomes by submitting portfolio quality papers to each area of the program is a great way to visualize learning goals that will help learners through the program, and help them communicate their own learning and expertise upon graduation. The first obstacle will be committee buy-in of the learning outcome translations I present to them……..

I am excited that there are meaningful ways to rethink badges – to use badges without even necessarily describing them with that videogame-based terminology that will support better student learning. Now to design that at the program level, then the course level………

Leave a comment

Filed under pedagogy

I’m reading The Available Means of Persuasion as I sift through readings for my forthcoming graduate courses. Helping students grapple with dense ideas of rhetoric, digital media, digital media literacy, digital rhetoric, and media literacy (literacies, etc.) requires students read a breadth of approaches.

I’m fascinated with their discussion of rhetorical agency. They explore the “the way agency is distributed across human and nonhuman actors” to understand how “multimodal public rhetoric is linked to the material concerns of technology and space” (p. 11). Their theory explores kairos, kairotic invention, and rhetorical agency as these assist a public rhetor’s preparedness for seeing the available means of persuasion.

While their attention to kairos and rhetorical agency is incredibly helpful, i’m left wondering in what ways the tools they discuss continue to use us (the users). Their aim is to inspire composition instructors to help students develop practices as multimodal public rhetors. This is amazing, I love it! But…….using the available technologies kairotically focuses time and attention on the situation, but never reflects on the affordances of the technologies being used.

Keep in mind, I do understand that a 15 week (or less!) composition cannot cover EVERYTHING. My aim here is not to critique their approach, but to wonder where and when reflection and critique of the affordances and algorithms of these technologies can feasibly be integrated into praxis.

For instance, a few weeks ago I was speaking with a colleague in the Library when he was approached by a student. Said student had questions about an undergrad honors thesis on Netflix and their LGBTQ category. After some back and forth questioning, the student was fairly happy to hear a body of research exists on YouTube videos and ‘coming out’ as genre. During the back and forth, the student commented on the prevalence of the LGBTQ queue in their stream (where I didn’t know it existed, but I have tons of kid categories). Additionally, the student commented on the types of films/shows featured (hence the ‘coming out’ genre analysis idea). When I began to mention the role the Netflix algorithm played in determining some of that information there was a significant amount of blank stares leveled at me. It’s not that considerations of algorithms influencing what viewers/users have access to is a difficult to understand concept – it just significantly complicates our traditional humanities approach (in this case – genre analysis).

As I read Sheridan, Ridolofo and Michel’s discussion of kairos as an important aspect of multimodal public rhetoric I immediately remembered the Netflix conversation. As we (composition instructors) include multimodal projects into our curriculums, is there a good space for discussing how the algorithm influences user experiences? When approaching a thesis as a genre analysis, it seems genre analysis as a method should include analysis (to the extent possible since most algorithms are kept fairly private) or at least discussion of the fact that an algorithm based on user preferences influences what a given user sees – highlighting the genre being analyzed. But, where does that conversation belong within the curriculum of an undergraduate degree? There is so much to discuss and practice at the Freshmen Composition level, adding yet another task that detracts from writing practices as transferrable simply dilutes writing learning. So where?

On a side note, I’ll begin teaching a Content Management course Spring 2018, this concept clearly needs to be a concern within that class!

Leave a comment

Filed under pedagogy

Book Review

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

One of the biggest struggles, as a reader of texts on digital and media literacy in classrooms, is finding a book that balances theory and practical classroom application of the theories. In an effort to avoid being prescriptive I’ve read too many texts that provided only theories and discussions of existing studies with no classroom application. I’ve read others with too little focus on the theory that influenced and supported the lesson plans. Unlike others works, Hobbs finds a great balance of theory and example lesson plans.

Underlying Hobbs discussion is the need to help students develop working theories of media and digital social tools, to strengthen their practices with these tools, and to develop their critical approaches to these spaces.  This focus matches my goals when using and discussing digital media tools.  Students need to learn to use the tools and avoid letting the tools use them – critical approaches to what students know and what they experience is so important for meaningful student engagement with the tools used.

In my advanced composition I require students to follow a social media user of their choice. The only recommendation I have for selecting a user and space is for students to not picking something too close to their heart – it can be difficult to analyze and critique your own fandoms. As I was finishing this book I received an email from a composition student thanking me for requiring students to critically engage with social media. Despite early skepticism with using social media – she appreciated the assignment and the chance to critically engage with a social media of her choice.

For this assignment at least, approaching social media to help students develop critical practices was a success. Developing assignments with Hobbs goal of developing more critically engaged students is possible! YAY!

While I’m updating my syllabi for my Summer and Fall classes I’m continuing to consider additional ways to develop more critical literacies practices. While we, as a class, brought in real-world examples early in the semester, we didn’t continue with this practice. I want to continue to support this practice in students and am consider ways of modifying my Twitter assignment to encourage (require) students to critically engage with news media in addition to the social media assignment. Both support critical reading and writing – the major goals of composition courses – and will allow for both academic and public genre writing.

Reading Hobbs book emphasized the importance of critical engagement with news media. While her book barely touches on videogames – my favorite media form – I really appreciated the mix of theory and practical application of digital and social media to support literacies development.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

STEM to STEAM

While I was teaching at NAU we developed an undergraduate videogame symposium to support undergraduate research in a topic they loved – videogames. During the second year we ran the event we used the idea of STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math – as the guiding theory for the event, drawing the humanities into discussions of technology.

The push for STEAM education has continued to grow since our conference two years ago. I just saw a webinar hosted by Ozobots on using Ozoblockly (their programming app) to foster STEAM classrooms. What caught my eye about their webinar sign-up is the reduction of STEAM to “art and technology” as they relate to their programming color commands.

I personally love the Ozobots because of their color coding – these color codes do support easy learning of programming basics (I haven’t played around with the Ozoblockly app since I don’t have a tablet). I also love that the Ozobots light up with so many different colors – the programming of personality is really engaging.

What i’m not understanding is how this use of colors means Art. I also missed the webinar, so i’m sure it was more engaged than I’m discussing here, but honestly the Ozobot webinar description is just the starting point for my thought pattern here.

As a Humanities faculty member, when I discuss STEAM I see “Art” as the stand in for Humanities in general, more specifically Humanities based critical thinking, critical reading and critical writing. There is a ton of important criticism on the inclusion of just the A and the collapse of all Humanities fields into Art, there is also important criticism on reading the A as Art and not understanding the depth of opportunity available from a more nuanced understanding of Art. I am not going to include these discussions here, they are easily available to those interested.

What I want to focus on instead are the underlying questions:

  • Why did the advocates of shifting from STEM to STEAM (a lot of the research points to changes beginning at RISD) focus specifically on Art? Is the goal artistic creativity, tinkering, critical engagement, or something more specific to art? Since creativity and tinkering have existed in other humanities fields (remember Social Studies classes in Junior High with the student video assignments, debates – that’s one example of creativity and tinkering in the Humanities most of us experienced), why Art – basically was “Art” selected for a cool acronym, or is there something specific that has been left out of subsequent discussions?
  • Why should STEM education see a need to include Art? What is happening, maybe not well, that drives this need?
  • While STEAM is becoming more popular, why isn’t this acronym also addressed at the collegiate level? We required curricular general education requirements to support a broadly educated student (breath is the horizontal bar in a T diagram) and a major/minor for a deeply educated student (depth is the vertical bar in a T diagram). But when makerspaces and digital labs are created, discussed, funded, why aren’t humanities faculty included in those discussions?

I have a whole slew of reading to accomplish this summer to help me address these ideas. This is partly for a Graduate seminar this summer and a Graduate seminar in the Fall (which will include a publishing opportunity – former grad students let me know if you want to be involved because I know i’ll need more authors). This is also partly for a conference in October – Feminism and Rhetorics (I was accepted, YAY).

How can feminist pedagogy help STEAM? How can feminist pedagogy (i’m starting with bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress) help curriculum design that both supports student learning/engagement, and supports student critical learning/engagement with technology. I want students to develop critical reflection on their technology choices, by using technology to learn composition – to develop their own working ideas of writing (#teachingfortransfer).

As a first step, these are the questions I have at this point. I’ll continue to develop the underlying questions about STEAM which influence the approaches used by technology companies to aid teachers in integrating technology in the classroom – to find ways of disrupting the expectations for college classrooms.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under pedagogy, Uncategorized

Let’s Talk About Grammar

I know the research on direct grammar instruction shows it has no effect, sometimes even a negative effect when it takes away from composition instruction (NCTE affirms these findings here).

As I read Warner’s piece on Inside HigherEd (here) about pushback comments to direct grammar instruction I considered the times when I’ve lectured on grammar.

Style

When discussing rhetorical moves made by academics in different disciplines, part of the discussion looks to grammar structure too. The passive construction of methodology details provided in the sciences is very important to that field, so it needs to be discussed as part of the style of the discipline. In understanding style and noticing these choices, the complexities of audience become more clear.

Well, let’s be honest, the goal of this conversation is to help students realize there are different grammatical values in different disciplines. All disciplines care about presentation, academic support, proper use of MLA/APA/AP/Chicago/IEEE/etc., argument support, clear argument development, consistent format and organization. The problem is, the grammatical details catch faculty members, so their significance to writing takes on more weight.

When discussing this with a freshmen class, it’s necessary to provide an example. So I use my son.

Marshall was accepted to [insert prestigious school here].

[insert prestigious school here] accepted Marshall.

These style choices rely on some element of grammar knowledge – students must identify the subject of the sentence, the verb, and the object to understand how the style choice significantly changes the meaning of the sentence.

This first step is where many students often struggle. They struggle to identify the parts of the sentence.

After I help them with the first sentence they are rockstars with the second. BONUS: I can see learning transfer across a short time period – which is amazing.

Grammar versus Style

At this point I often wonder, am I directly lecturing on grammar with this style example. Will this style example/discussion carry weight in their learning so they access these ideas in new writing situations.

It’s such a small part of the overall curriculum (again, focused more heavily on the argument presentation ideas above) that I doubt it carries – but it holds so much significance. While it’s grammar, I’m imparting knowledge on basic grammar functions, the real focus of these discussions is style. What is the place of style in composition teaching?

Based on disciplinary feedback, my department has considered the idea of creating stand alone style courses (there are amazing books on style that can be incredibly helpful). But not all students will volunteer for this approach to writing.

As I work through final grading for the Spring 2017 semester I begin to plan my next courses. While I’m teaching mostly Grad classes this summer, I will also be planning a curricular overhaul of FYC in the Fall. Is there a place for style discussions? I’ll also be teaching a Junior level composition – are juniors more prepared for this discussion?

Also, if I work it into the curriculum, where would it be 1) the easiest to teach based on surrounding assignments (hello scaffolding)? 2) the most meaningful to students (hello transfer)?

While I don’t think I’ll have THE PERFECT (imagine this in a big booming voice) answer, I will play around with this idea as I create new curriculum.

This might be a bigger project requiring a shift in disciplinary understanding of their own writing practices. While they often point to comma errors and split infinitives, is the underlying concern more one of style, or truly grammar. On a side note –  we all make these grammar mistakes. And may I remind these faculty of the most famous “To boldly go” split infinitive?

Now, on to exploring the place of style in an updated, Teaching for Transfer modeled composition curriculum.

Leave a comment

Filed under pedagogy, Uncategorized

Motivation and Mindset

I participated in a Faculty Learning Community read of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion. While it’s looking like I’ll miss the last faculty meet discussion of the book, I want to engage with the final chapter of the book, so I’m writing instead.

Additionally, I’m working on a conference proposal for CCCC 2018. Our panel will focus on the idea of transfer. While Writing across Contexts is the focus, I started reading the edited collection Understanding Writing Transfer and want to consider how the discussion of emotions in a curriculum mix well with curriculum design focused on transfer.

One theory discussed by Cavanagh in chapter 5 is control-value (there is tons of research on this – read Cavanagh for the overview I’m not providing here). Essentially educators want students to have a lot of control so they see high value in the assignment to inspire “self-directed learning that results in a shift in how they [students] see the world, and something that lasts for their lifetimes” (Cavanagh 145). While Cavanagh isn’t using the term transfer – what I’m taking away from this discussion is the goal of transfer (i’m also applying this to composition courses).

If I look at just control-value – I do this (as do most composition courses). I encourage students to select a topic that is meaningful to them, and to draw from a discipline that interests them (students also create a project adding a secondary layer of control-value). But, by itself, this assignment isn’t necessarily motivating. Nor, and most importantly, does it inspire good writing, good understanding of writing, reflecting writing, understanding of one’s own writing process, and all the other necessary steps for humans to develop strong writing skills. Cavanagh provides great ideas on scaffolding learning, providing long-term assignments that inspire high control and high value in students – but I struggled with finding the application in [my?] composition course.

Typically, students don’t see the benefit of a composition course. Freshmen often enter college with experiences writing literary analysis in high school English classes. The goal of Freshman Composition is not literary analysis, but a more general ‘academic writing’ that prepares students for disciplinary writing (in all disciplines since their major may change AND they will probably [hopefully] write for gen eds). The goal is to teach students who don’t think they need writing, students who don’t want writing, students who don’t think they’ll ever write in their profession, and students genuinely interested in learning to write. Motivating students to see the control-value situation of a writing assignment so they embrace the learning of writing is difficult (note: i’m not assuming this is easy in ANY class – i’m simply applying to my discipline).

As I read Moore’s “Five Essential Principles About Writing Transfer” I began to see connections back to the control-value theory through principle 3 – the need to develop students habits of mind and identities to help students see their high control and the high value in transferring writing. For so many of the mini assignments I have students engage with this is the underlying theory (I didn’t know I was using) – helping students recognize their previous habits and assemble and remix new knowledge in to transform their prior knowledge of writing. Which helps motivate students to see the purpose in their own learning (developing their own theory of writing – Teaching for Transfer goals) – which helps high control and high value assignments work.

As I move forward with my CCCC 2018 panel discussion I’m working in ways gameplay can help students develop mindset necessary to transform their prior knowledge (principle 1 and principle 3). As I continue to work through new curriculum i’m constantly considering – what does this look like in the curriculum? What flexibility can I design to modify these approaches based on the students IN THAT SECTION?

I also need to read more on mindset – Dweck’s book is in my TBR pile!

Leave a comment

Filed under pedagogy, Uncategorized

Predictive Analysis

While I love technology in the classroom, I try to not assume that technology can address many issues students encounter as students of the class (and other classes). I love the idea of grammar help through programs designed by textbook publishers (sold to faculty as a way to remove the need to address grammar in composition classrooms) but what drives students to want to use those – and to internalize the learning so it can be accessed as base knowledge in other situations (transfer)? This is a really complicated consideration.

With that always bubbling in my subconscious, and 2 sections of freshmen comp topic proposals to grade, I read Challenging Superficial Solutions here on Inside Higher Ed. To address a high failing course, instead of relying on just early alert systems to tell the high percentage of failing students they were failing, Ben-Naim describes how a course redesigned with threshold concept tutorials.

I’m exploring Teaching for Transfer (TFT) and Writing About Writing (WAW) and transfer theory to address similar issues in freshmen composition courses. I am redesigning to explore the threshold concept idea – inspired heavily by Writing Across Contexts. my bubbling subconscious loved this portion of the Challenging Superficial Solutions post.

Where I struggled is toward the end – Ben-Naim breaks down failing course options to only early alert systems OR fixing the course.

1) this assumes the course is broken (yes there is still bad teaching built on bad (or no) pedagogy). Is this an assumption I’m comfortable making, no. I’ve taught so many students through the years who want to achieve, and I’ve taught so many who scrape by. Is it the fault of my course if a student shows up to every single class period, participates in discussion, but submits no assignments (i’ve had this happen more than once). This example is not uncommon, as is the student who disappears halfway through the system. Neither of these are indicative of a broken course, but they factor into the failure percentages when looking at the course as a whole. We can’t choose who to exclude from data sets, so the set discussion should include the variable of the student.

2) this assumes there are only 2 ways to address the situation – early alert OR predictive analysis addressing of threshold concepts to increase learning. This sounds fantastic – sign me up for a situation in which I can teach threshold concepts and pass an entire course. Oh, wait, there are students involved, students with their own agendas that cool digital modules (which is amazing and should be used whenever possible to address the majority of learners needs) can’t touch. I agree early alert systems puts the responsibility back on the student, and a study skills counselor (a position I just invented right here!) would be immensely beneficial in helping the student address the real problems. Early alert is more indicative of a student who possibly doesn’t have the maturity to attend school, or doesn’t understand how to adjust their learning for the new situation. These systems can be beneficial, but they don’t necessarily address the needs of students. Similarly, if the course is difficult, new approaches to teaching are necessary and strong digital content can help faculty address those concerns.

However, we can’t leave the student out of these discussions. What drives students to college? These questions need to be considered by those in higher education, and by students and their families. How can university/college resources then help students meet academic, educational, and professional goals to help students graduate? To improve graduation numbers?

When we have these discussions, and complicate the systems that universities embrace to improve retention and graduation rates, we can’t forget the students. When I worked as a functional analyst my job was to break the system I was testing, even if the sequence of clicks was highly unlikely. Users will always make their own decisions and design needs to account for that. Students are the same – students will do what they please no matter how thoughtful our systems – so how do we return the humanity to these discussions.

On a PS side note I just finished reading Rogue Archives which has an amazing discussion of how the 1990s and early 2000’s ushered in an age of women’s interaction with technology framed by the goal of saving humanity – so humanity in relation to technology has also been an ongoing discussion that obviously influenced this post.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

More on Twitter and SNS

This also appears in my working annotated bibliography pages.

Tess, P.A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual) – A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 29.

In this review article, Tess discusses articles published prior to 2012 that discuss social media in higher education classrooms. Tess found that most of the articles published about social networking sites in the classroom relied on surveys and questionnaires for evidence of outcomes.

While a bit dated in 2016 (year of my posting), his concluding question still stands up 4 years after data collection. Tess asks “Can the same affordances of social networking sites that support individual level use, commend the integration of SNSs into the higher education class?” (p. A66). This question continues to be researched. I continue to grapple with this question when I assign not just SNSs as required technology for the course, but with Web 2.0 technologies (such as Word Clouds and Infographics), and with the learning management system.

This is also a very complex question – do instructors use SNSs in similar ways that influence how a site is assigned? I’ve discussed Twitter with various colleagues, many implement the tool in their classrooms very differently than I do while our learning goals are similar. So in asking if individual level use can be integrated into the higher ed classroom, the researcher also needs to consider practices associated with the SNSs realizing practices are not uniform across users.

It’s this question that I want to focus on here. When I assign Twitter to students, I build the assignment as a “Live Tweeting Class Notes” and “Live Tweeting Reading Notes” assignment, that also requires engagement with peers in the course hashtag. Have I just recreated the discussion board differently? I drew on ideas of Writing about Writing in developing this assignment, where students write informally about their own writing and learning.

What I know so far:

  • students are writing about writing
  • students are practicing writing for a known audience
  • students are writing in a shorthand form that must convey an argument (elevator pitch)
  • students are more engaged
    • favorite created hashtag so far #drphelpmegetthatdegree

Next steps –

  • beyond surveys and questionnaires, how can I measure the effectiveness of Twitter in the classroom?
  • is there a measured difference based on major? Now that I’m teaching a junior level writing with next to no English majors – how does this space help students further along in their majors write about writing?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized