Friday, February 04, 2005

Mary Harrsch - a reflection

Personally, I was disappointed.

Once again, Learning Times tripped me up. I was able to hear Mary's lecture but when she went "driving around" my browser wouldn't follow. Even after I released the firewall and reprogrammed my router to accept the extra ports required, the only time I saw any of the graphical content was when it got put on the Whiteboard. It sounded sorta interesting.

The other problem I have is this notion of getting everbody in the same space at same time so we can all sit around and listen to one person talk. Granted the text chat was there, but the presentation mode ... sitting at the feet of the master ... seemed like we weren't really taking advantage of the opportity to get in and get our hands dirty.

The material sounded like it was pretty good, but couldn't that have been offered .. say .. in a blog, or as some other kind of publication rather than having Mary walk us thru it. The questions that people were asking seemed pretty decent .. and some of the follow on blogging I've read says that the majority of people liked it and got a lot out of it.

Myself, I can't help but think this glass was half empty. While that means it was also half-full, I would have liked to use that other half glass.

Ideas for using RSS in class:

- Put a technorati key-word watchlist together and post the link to it to the class for use in their aggregators.
- Cross link all the blogs in the class to a single aggregator stream.
- Build a tag list and feed it into an aggregator.
- Teacher publishes work, assignments, content on RSS to the members of his/her class.

Ah, well.



Cleve said...

"...getting everbody in the same space at same time so we can all sit around and listen to one person talk"

(slap of the forehead!) holy smoke you're absolutely right. Maybe it's partly a technology issue?...there isn't any synchronous platform that would manage a more constructivist approach?

This sets my mind a whirlin'...couldn't you just record the "expert" presentation as an asynchronous pre-activity, then, in the synchronous session, break out into IM-powered mini-groups to *do* something (w/ each moderator working with a group), then meet back all together and present results/discuss with said expert? Or something along those lines...?

Nathan Lowell said...

The platform was synchronous enough .. and yes. The idea would have been to lay out the "presentation" in an asynchronous mode first, give everybody a chance to look it over, then have synchronous sessions where we could try stuff and talk it over with each other while we worked.

The problem is that we're in a "classroom" mindset. Even tho we dont need to be limited by that Box we still gravitate to what's familiar. And when the environment is so structured and 'top down' it just makes it that much easier for the "expert lecture" to come to the fore.

We need to keep in mind that classrooms are for the efficient application of teacher time, not the effective maximization of individual outcomes.

aaron said...

These are excellent ideas Nathan and Cleve. While I don't share Nathan's sentiment of the sessions as being 'a bit disappointing', I do agree that the overall level of participation and interactivity has been low with the audio based chats at Alado and Learning Times. I think it would be well worth experimenting with alternative structures in future synchronous events. Hmm....back to the drawing board on this one. Thanks Nathan.

Graham said...

I agree with Aaron that there are some very interesting ideas here. I particulalry like the idea of reviewing an asynchronous presentation first and then going synchronous to hold a discussion / debate, etc.

In fact that's exactly what took place about a week ago in another, similar environment(Interwise). I was involved in a synchronous conference session with a group of ICT coordinators from around the globe. We were all told to prepare questions based on a pre-recorded presentation by the ICT development manager. This made the actual synchronous session far more profitable than it might have been if the event had been given live. My only criticism of the resulting session was that the people presenting hardly made use of the whirteboard facilities, and the result was that the audio chat felt a little flat. It was a positive experience though.

However, I am talking about a large organisation with a lot of resources and a considerable training budget, and people with plenty of time on their hands to prepare this. In many ways I am really happy and grateful that we (thanks to LT and Webheads) have this kind of resource available.

Although I'm not sure how feasible it would be now to try and persuade our guest speakers to prepare and record a session beforehand (my guess after meeting two of our week 6 speakers last Sunday is that they don't have the time to do this)

Finally, being a teacher myself, I have to say that I find the experience of observing an instructor presenting live on this kind of platform valuable in itself, dealing with the technology and coping when there are technical hitches. I find this especially useful thinking that it may be the way that some of us are asked to teach in the near future.

I hope when that time comes, the teacher's director of studies does not ask her/him to pre-record part of the lesson (although here too I can see possible benefits) beforehand, becasue for me this would take the fun out of teaching.


Thanks for starting this stimulating debate, Nathan.

Bee said...

I absolutely agree that an environment like Learning Times should be better explored and that participants should have the opportunity to interact. This is why I have included the two slides at the beginning so that you could place yourselves on the map and draw your faces. The possibility of separating people in virtual groups exists at LT and there are also games that can be played so as to encourage more interactivity. However, presenting online is a totally different skill from writing on blogs or lecturing in the classroom and must be learnt and practiced. Not everyone is a good presenter or blogger either.

These sessions, as Graham points out, make us reflect on what works and what does not and can serve as food for thought for more interaction. Await and see ;-)