July 30, 2006

Dream and reality, or "It sounded like a good idea at the time...."

Dream: post assignments to a class website or Moodle, then students who forget what the homework is, or who missed the class, can still do the homework (absence is no excuse). Even better, if you use Moodle, students can post their assignments to the Moodle. Checking who's done the homework is simply a matter of bringing up the homework page and checking off the list of names.

Reality:
  1. Not all students have access to the Internet in practice, even tho they do in theory (through the school computers). Altho they CAN use the school's computers, they CAN'T because the computer rooms are not available when my students have free periods.

  2. Students forget their username or password, so they hand in their homework on paper.

  3. Students login ok but post their homework in the wrong place (wrong week, wrong forum, wrong assignment).

  4. Students login ok, but post their homework late (so many miss the deadline that it becomes meaningless), which means each time I bring up the assignment page, there's 1 or 2 stragglers who have added their contribution.


Dream: students can use the Moodle or a blog to post their reflections on their learning. Even better, they can read each other's reflections and comment on them, creating a community of learners.

Reality: Typical student reflections:
  1. Today, I studied English.

  2. It (sic) listening a song. It was interesting.


Much as I admire Anne Davis and people like her, at this point in the year, this post just makes we want to click "unsubscribe". Bye Anne!

2 comments:

Doug Noon said...

The dream/reality gap smacks me squarely every time I reach for something outside the limits of my students' experience. I don't know if it's schema or motivation - probably both.

Bringing students along on these little adventures is a tricky thing. That's one reason I pay attention to people who seem to be working with REAL kids, and not the idealized kind that researchers are fond of writing about.

Your experience falls into a category that I call "headbanging" and I do it all the time. Vacations are for healing so that I can go back and do it some more - only differently - next time. You see, I do learn from experience. But I don't think I'm learning how to do what I want as much as I'm learning to avoid what I don't want. It's a slow process, and success seems to come by accident as often as by inspiration.

Thanks for your honesty.

JH said...

Marco,
I understand completely how you feel. I have read your latter posts about tediousness of keeping up with students' assignments and also completely agree with you.
In my English teacher education class blogging project, deadlines were important so that we could read each other's posts and write comments on them before the next class. There were A LOT of students in the class who could not make deadlines though. These students tended to say that they did not understand blogging, they did not have a computer at home, and they were just too busy.
I was actually a little down about the whole experience but on the last day of class I decided to give a simple questionnaire to see what went wrong. I have posted the results on my blog and I was surprised that students were generally positive about the whole experience and a lot encouraged me to continue using blogs for my classes in the future.