Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dragged Kicking and Screaming into Social Media

Full disclaimer:   I do have a FaceBook page (that I check a couple times a year…) but beyond that I admit that I pretty much limit my web-based communication to email. I’ve never felt compelled to “tweet” anything (which for all I know is now so yesterday, anyway) or use whatever else may be the flavor of the day in the apps world.
This semester, though, one of my students on the first day of class asked if he could collect everyone’s cell phone number to set up a “Group Me” class chat.  A bit reluctantly, I gave my cell phone number and waited to see what would happen.
Not surprisingly, I got a lot of “how u doin” and “boy Im tired” types of messages, ones that I just glanced at and hit Delete.  But gradually I began to see a real purpose.  One obvious use is as a place where a student can ask a general class-related question and I can answer right away, so that others don’t have to ask the same question.  (While I was typing this, a student texted to ask if Moodle was down and I let her and others know that it was fine at Lincoln’s end, while another student suggested a workaround.)   
Perhaps even more importantly, though, I think it’s a motivational tool.  Early this morning I was getting ready to head to campus when one student texted, “Good morning, wonderful people.”  A few class members chimed in with similar greetings.  While I was too busy getting things together so I could get on the road to write anything, I drove to school musing about how nice it was to have students thinking positively about class and classmates first thing in the morning and thinking that it would be an interesting research project to see if class satisfaction and course completion/persistence correlate at all with that sort of casual media use.
Do any of you have examples of constructive use of social media, whether formally for instruction or informally?   While I may be too old to use them, I’m still young enough to be curious!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I had to "go back" to school....

Guest Blogger:  James Wadley

So for all the years that I have been in school to get my doctorate and postgraduate certificate, it turns out that I have to “go back to school” in order to obtain a credential that will enable a smoother transition for the Master of Science in Counseling program to eventually become accredited here at Lincoln University.  The courses that I am taking online are Theories of Counseling and Human Development.  (The irony of me being a student at this time is that I am teaching Theories of Counseling this semester in the MSC program.) 
I am blogging because I just completed an assignment where I had to offer my opinion about a case and then offer two postings to the students in my cohort who also had to chime in on the same case. 

I am disappointed.  It feels like there is minimal interaction between myself and my cohort, and the responses on my thread are very superficial.  There seems to be a theme around response production that if someone responds to my post, they rarely exceed four sentences.  The readings from the text are okay….but do not contain some of the latest research/clinical findings and assumptions that move the field forward. 
I’ve been spoiled academically and have had nothing but face to face interaction with my peers, professors, and supervisors over the years.  I think what’s missing is the anecdotal accounts that provide depth. Shared face to face, classroom stories are woven with theory and invites critical discussion. This may not happen online since people in my cohort rarely revisit discussions beyond the minimal standard of posts.   I wish that my online experience could be different and possibly mirror face to face instruction.  I’m struggling to stay motivated, and so I decided that I was going to go ahead and knock out all of the assignments for the semester for these two classes between now and next weekend. No, this is not 7-1-7. I’m just bored and disenchanted….

I’m so glad our Lincoln MSC Counseling program is face to face and has 15 weeks of engaging semesters.  I wonder how entry-level therapists who complete this online program could ever develop the skills and competency to be effective and self-sustaining practitioners.  I just don’t see it.  Maybe something will change in my journey for another master’s degree.

If you have had a different online educational experience, please feel free to offer your thoughts and words of wisdom to me….

Searching for support…
James Wadley, Ph.D 
Chair, Graduate Counseling and Human Services Programs
Lincoln University

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Expanding Our Role Model Role

The idea that as professors we should be good role models for our students is certainly not anything new or surprising.  We all take care to speak professionally, proofread our handouts carefully, demonstrate our scholarly integrity by citing sources for ideas we use, show up on time--and prepared--for class. etc.  An article by David Googlar in The Chronicle of Higher Education, though, did make me rethink that role model issue.   
Among other suggestions, Googlar advises that rather than just modeling expertise, we should also “model stupidity”—showing students that not knowing an  answer is an acceptable and important part of being a scholar and then showing them the thinking processes we use to try to find a reasonable answer.
“Almost everything we do in the classroom -- the way we speak, how we make use of technologies, what we demand of our students -- provides a model for them in some way,” Googlar argues.
Do you agree?  In what ways do you see yourself as a role model in the classroom? What are the actions/attributes/awarenesses that you consciously try to model as you teach?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Joys (?) of Teaching Required Courses

All of us have felt the excitement of teaching courses in our major field to students who know why they are there and who want to learn that subject.  That’s the part of teaching that reminds us why we chose this profession in the first place (certainly it wasn’t for the pay…)  But what about when we teach gen ed or other courses to students who have to be there but don’t necessarily want to be there? 
Julianne Hazen, in an interesting Faculty Focus article on this topic, suggests that our goals in such situations must include  establishing value, building on previous knowledge, addressing expectations, and giving the students freedom of choice within the assignments.  She offers three guidelines to consider:
  1. Use active learning techniques rather than overwhelming students with long reading assignments; students get a deeper and more engaged learning experience if they read a short article and then explore some topic in it in a short reflection paper.
  2. Invite guest speakers so that students can see and interact with people who can bring the subject to life because it is part of their lives.
  3. Go on field trips.  Setting foot in a museum, a science laboratory, a social service agency, a church, gets students’ emotions involved, and deep learning involves emotion.
I’d be interested in hearing from those of you who teach required courses.  Have you tried any of the three suggestions?  What else do you do that helps make your topic come alive?