Monday, April 8, 2013

Brick by Brick

I'm at a stand-still because there is a lock on my inter-library loan account. The horror! I have this huge list of books and articles, and I can't order any of them. Some kind librarian is going to either inform me that I have a huge fine, or there is a disconnect between my account and the ILL. Either way, I've had to rely on what is open-source or open-access. Lucky for me, there is a lot of useful information on the Internet.

As I continue to work on my presentation, I've been waitlisted for presenting at another conference. Weird. It's in a really far away place, so I kind of need to make plans if I'm going to go. I'm not going write about it until they formally accept me, but wow, this is a first for me. I'm waiting in the wings with the hopes that somebody will cancel. So. I guess I'm flattered.

Thankfully, what I proposed is very similar to what I am presenting on in May. In fact, the paper I'm working on, my grad class that starts tonight, this blog, and the presentation all ties together with what I learned from ETMOOC about connectivism and social cognitive theory. Who knew? During the ETMOOC class, I didn't have time to read any background on the origin of connectivism; I just started connecting. It kind of felt like I was dancing to music I didn't understand. But I jumped right in. And it keeps going--which I'm learning is the point of ETMOOC. What sneaky pedagogy!
Then I got a few comments and bits of advice that helped me along. It felt like a positive experience with learning. I started telling other people about this style of learning. They took notes. I worked with another faculty member on creating a grant so I could get paid to share my ideas. This tiny little brainstorm of mine is so fun, I don't feel like I'm working. I'm creating some new road, I suppose, but it's rough like the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

I just finished reading How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles of Smart Teaching by Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, and Norman (2010). I took awhile to finish this one but I'm glad that I read it little by little. They take an anecdote or two, use research to help teachers understand the main theme of the anecdotes, and they give readers strategies to improve their practice. Simple. Worthwhile. Engaging. I'm particularly interested in the intersection between student motivation, student engagement, and self-directed learning. These authors put their seven principles in easily digestible chapters, and their focus on meta-cognition substantiate what is often hard to define as "good teaching" or what is sometimes referred to as "Best Practices." In all of the stories, the teachers failed to engage or understand the students and the writers point out what they could do differently.

What I can do differently is always on my mind, and as I dig through the student surveys from last quarter, they have some great ideas. Tonight I'm going to sit in a classroom and be a student. Brick and mortar style. I'll spend some time thinking about the last three years of my grad program and how I'm going to put it all together. Daunting? Yes.

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