Quick Reflection – Reflection #2

October 11, 2018 2 By JR

Not my 9x9x25 post this week, but I just read Reflection #2 by MelRad, and was about to comment when I thought, ‘hey, I can just blog a quick reflection and hopefully it’ll ping back’. Honestly, I’ve been frustrated with blog commenting systems for a while now. Some require login, some eat my comments, so here…I’m reclaiming commenting.

The timing for many of this week’s posts has been quite serendipitous. Just yesterday I was meeting with an instructor about an online course development who was really struggling with how many readings to assign for a particular week we were planning. I often find there is a cognitive leap that seems larger than it is for instructors who have taught extensively face-to-face but are now teaching online. The question I was asked basically boiled down to, “If I don’t assign it as required will students even read it? How do I even know if they read the articles?”

How this relates to Mel’s post is that my response was basically, “even in your face-to-face class you don’t know, you can’t sit next to all of them and watch your students read, nor should you want to.”

Mel mentioned that she tried a few activities and very likely tried more than she listed in the post. I’m not sure there is any strategy that is guaranteed to work for ALL students, and that’s ok I think. Students ultimately have the choice over what they will and won’t do. What we can do is encourage them to participate. I noticed that the examples in Mel’s post were focused on Student-Content and Student-Instructor interactions. A strategy I have found success with, and have heard back from faculty particularly in the liberal arts, is to use strategies based in Student-Student interactions.

Planning activities such as jigsaws, around the world, or other cooperative activities introduces some social responsibility for students. Of course you need to let students know what the planned activities are so expectations are set prior to the activities. Instructors I know who have employed these types of activities based on selected concepts and readings have reported that continued use over time supports the discussions in their classrooms.