Sunday, January 27, 2013

Being Effective and Efficient

A colleague sent me an article sent from another colleague on Thursday. I put it in my ever-expanding "To Read" pile, and I got to it this morning.

For readers who do not know me, I teach 11 composition courses a year. Prior to starting graduate school again in 2010, I taught 22 composition courses a year. Yes, you read that right! And I struggled with being efficient and effective.

For English teachers who struggle with math: here is a fun story problem.
Q: What is it like to have 150 students write three pages a week for 11 weeks?
A: Me=No Life

These days, I feel a lot better about how I am doing as a teacher, and about my quality of life in general. I haven't taken a nap in my car between classes in over three years. The only time I eat in my car is after a bike race.

And before you tell me, I know. There are many, many teachers working worse gigs than me.

There are worse things I could do.

So will I have to worry about a MOOC taking my job? That's the question I had in my head before reading:

"Here a MOOC, There a MOOC: But Will It Work for Fresmen Composition?" by Karen Head

Here's a quote that stuck out to me:

"For our team, the greatest challenge is finding a way to provide the necessary substantive feedback to a large number of students. When Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, visited Georgia Tech last fall, I asked in a public meeting if she thought her company’s platform was appropriate for teaching a writing course. She responded that while there were robo-grading programs capable of evaluating mechanical errors, she wasn’t sure you could teach style or more complex skills.

That made me think about the popular children’s toy “Farmer Says,” which was designed in the 1960s to help children learn the names and associated sounds of common animals. I learned about animal sounds from my “Farmer Says,” but when I was 8 years old, I was watching television with my father and commented that I’d never seen a real pig. Two weeks later he took me to the South Carolina State Fair. Somewhere beyond the basic content knowledge there was a need for something more—something that required a more personalized and involved approach.

Can our MOOC be efficient and effective? I’ll let you know."

I can't wait to find out. MOOCs sound efficient. It's the effectiveness I am interested in. So much of what I do is personalized. I am involved.
Also, those robo-programs that can read for "mechanical errors" may be helpful for review.

A student can write a correct sentence with the wrong information, and she would pass.

She will earn a Coursera badge or certificate.

True example from a former student:
President Bill Clinton was in office during the Civil Rights Movement.

My imagined Coursera comments:
"Correct! Good work."

My comments: President Clinton was alive during the Civil Rights Movement BUT...

Anyways, would I recommend a student take that MOOC before the placement test? Yes. That's another conversation for another day. I have to focus on being effective and efficient for Week 4.

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