Facebook and Internet surfing during class time – is it really an issue?

Some lecturers complain about students going online during class time. How to eradicate this? Well, perhaps you should flip the question – why shouldn’t they go online? It’s hard to hold back the ocean tide. Solution:during tutorials, get them to do stuff online that relates to the subject/theme for the week. My students respond positively to that message. Of course I am running a Humanities subject, which involves free and interpretive thinking of cultural, social, political and historical topics. Would the same unworried attitude  towards students being online in class work, for example, in science or business classes? Dunno.

Learning 2014 Festival – some things I have learned

David Boud says feedback needs to be ‘timely, understood and applied’. What’s the point of assessing, Simon Housego would say, if you don’t know if students have acted upon the feedback. I have learned from this and plan to apply that in the first student assignment. As part of the assignments 1 & 3 (cultural case study and critical literature review) and before students have received marks and comments for their individual assignments, they will log into REVIEW and evaluate (grade) their work against the assessment criteria before they receive feedback. Then upon receipt of the tutor’s mark and comments, students will write a half-page reflection on the feedback: Was it useful? Why/why not? What are you going to do with it? What do you think you learned with this assignment in terms of your abilities?This does not have to be extra marking work – students can be given a low stakes mark simply for submitting the self-reflection.

Adam Morgan has made available a kind of ‘group charter’ (‘team conduct code’) form: students fill it out and commit to some ground rules about meeting times, punctuality, work distribution, collective decision-making, respect, etc. I am going to use a modified version of this for the Contemporary Latin(o) Americas group work.

Learning 2014 Festival – so far

I missed yesterday’s opening sessions as I arrived back from 26 hours straight travel from a Central American conference. Got to go to my first day of the festival today. First up was a ‘video-clipping’ workshop with David Litting from the UTS library- really useful. We learnt how to access different video archives through UTS library as well as various ways of clipping and posting discipline-specific videos. I have already found and included a great clip from Informit on the Santa Muerte cult in Mexico (Saint Death cult – don’t worry, it’s not what you think), which is a great instance of how popular culture works on different levels.

In the afternoon we had a workshop on “Interactive tutorials and seminars: why and how”. The workshop was in the new building 11 and its impressive learning spaces – wow!, is alI I can say. Staff were put through their paces by Peter Kandlbinder on running tutorials with collaborative technologies. We were placed in the position of students and we were awkward at times. We therefore have a ‘lot’ to learn in order to use these spaces and current pedagogies. Interesting how primary and secondary school teachers have to do a teaching diploma and teaching rounds before they are unleashed on students, but not university lecturers! The assumption is that we know (innately and intuitively) the best way to teach. Hmm. I plan to visit a primary and secondary school to learn from the masters!

Final reflection: the new learning spaces in UTS are cutting edge. They should not be allocated to teachers who are not prepared to learn how to use the technology and are not prepared to update their pedagogical method on collaborative group learning. It would be like giving strawberries to …