Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Brugge at Night, a photograph
This is the third part of Intense-Great-Quiet discussed in the previous two posts. It is Quiet now in the lab. Many students are there, but they are working alone or in small groups quietly -as in a library - on assignments, blogs and projects. The quiet gives us time to reflect on what is happening in the labs.

One thing that is happening is that learning is taking place. How do I know that? We see problems being solved. We hear ideas being generated and shared among the students. We see the products of their work. You also can see those products on their blogs, and read the comments they share with one another. If you have not commented on EDM310 Student Blogs, I invite you to do so now. Pick some names from the list. Read a post or two. Leave a comment. You will then become part of our learning community as well.

When I decided to address Anthony’s three part answer to my question “How has the day gone?” I expected to write a summary of my thoughts in this space. Four students have shared their thoughts in comments. What better source of an understanding of what happens in the lab than the reports of students themselves. Let’s review what they had to say.

Nervous. Overwhelmed. Frustrated. Alone. Afraid to ask for help. Three of the students used one or more of those words to describe how they felt upon entering EDM310. These feelings are often reported by entering students. It is a different kind of class. It requires independent learning. You must manage your time wisely. There are few boundaries to limit (and guide) you. The material and tasks are new and different. No surprises there. I am delighted, however, that by the fourth week of class the students could talk about these fears, these mysteries they were about to encounter.

What helped? The lab and my three outstanding undergraduate lab assistants - Anthony Capps, Jamie Lynn Miller and Stephen Akins - “an amazing, helpful and patient staff” in the words of Amani Alloul. The students felt better when they realized they could ask for help - and get it. From the lab assistants and from each other. They understood that they would have to do the work themselves, that no one would do it for them. But they also knew that they could collectively learn from each other, that there was a learning community evolving in the lab. They also proudly reported that they were confident of their learning because they were, as Angelica Scott wrote, “able to teach the skill to someone” else. Prent Davis spoke for the others in saying that it was clear that the “best learning environment is one that fosters a ‘learning community’.” And their fears are dissipating. AnMarie Lane put it this way: “Because of the things that happen in the lab, I am actually enjoying a class that I used to be afraid of."

Thank you! It is a wonderful quiet time I have had reflecting on what you have said!

Monday, September 20, 2010


After Van Gogh II, a photograph of a church in Montepulciano, Italy
This is the second part of Intense-Great-Quiet started in the previous post. The names of the students have been changed.

Great was the second descriptor that Anthony applied to the EDM Lab for Thursday September 9. "What made it 'Great!', Anthony?" I asked.

Well, Dr. Strange, there were five students in the lab when I arrived. Helen and Kat were sitting next to each other and Helen immediately asked me how to add the code for a Wordle to her blog. I went and stood behind her and after asking a few questions, coaxed her through the process successfully. Not five minutes later Kat turned around and asked for help. I went to her and stood behind her and asked what kind of help she needed. She said she didn't know how to add a Wordle to her page. Helen kept working on her project but must have overheard my explanation to Kat of what I had gone over with Helen just minutes before.

Ten minutes passed and Kat asked me to show her how to add alt and title modifiers to her image that she had just added to her blog. As I walked to her seat I was a bit frustrated since the step by step directions are in the Instruction Manual. Since I was there to help, I kept moving toward Kat's chair. But I did say, in a voice loud enough to attract the attention of everyone in the lab, "Kat wants me to know how to deal with the alt and title modifiers for image tags. How many of you need help on that subject?" Everyone except Charles raised their hands. I then turned to Charles and said "Charles, you didn't raise your hand. Do you need help with alt and title modifiers?" "No, I have already done mine" was his reply. "OK, why don't you teach the others how to do them" I said.

Charles looked at me a few seconds, then somewhat grudgingly, got up from his seat and stood behind Kat. Joanie and Margaret were already there. Charles began to explain how he had entered the alt and title modifiers. About half way through the process he began to make mistakes. I stopped him and asked a few questions. I then proceeded to walk Kat through the process while the other students stood behind Kat and watched. When Kat had finished with her image, and had tested to see that the title correctly displayed, the others returned to their computers and worked on their images. A few minutes later they were showing each other that their images displayed the title window correctly."

Ten more minutes went by. There were no more questions directed to me but I could hear muted conversations. I looked and saw that the five students who had been working so independently before were now sharing ideas, offering help to one another, and working as a 'learning community' as you call it.

That was Great!

I agree. That was Great! In the Quiet time that will follow in the next post, I will reflect on these two incidents (Intense in previous post and Great in this post) in a way that may be useful to all of us who are trying to create "learning communities."

Sunday, September 12, 2010


cartoon images of two people debating
On the afternoon of Thursday September 9, 2010 I asked Anthony Capps, one of my undergraduate student assistants in EDM310, how the day had gone. "Intense, Great and Quiet" is an approximate quote of Anthony's reply to my question. Here is a combination of my take as well as his on the day and on Week 3. It is divided into three separate posts.

Intense (Great and Quite will be considered in separate posts).

Anthony was referring to Jamie Lynn's vigorous response to Allie Glass' post Blog Assignment #2 in which she discussed Mr. Winkle Wakes by Mathew Needleman; Did You Know 3.0 by Karl Fisch; Vicki Davis' Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts; and one of Sir Ken Robinson's Ted Talks Schools Kill Creativity. Allie wrote in her comment on Mr. Winkle Wakes "... if Mr. Winkle really were to wake 100 years later, in my opinion, he would have seen a totally different classroom then the video showed." In the video the school is a place of respite for Mr. Winkle because the school was like the school he remembered from long ago. That was an entirely different reaction than Mr. Winkle had when he entered a business and was so shocked by the new technologies that he fled to a hospital for treatment only to be equally overcome by the technologies in use there. But in the school? Only a dusty computer in the back not being put to use by anyone.

Allie's defense of schools as being up to date is a view held by many of the entering students in EDM310. Some also are opposed to the use of technology other than in a "computer technology class". Chris "Boone" Patrick responded to my comment on his post Blog Post #2 in an email in which he wrote "I'm not saying that technology is bad or that it should be outlawed, but in schools, unless you are in a computer technology class students, shouldn't be using it. " (I added all of the commas in the quotation).

Here is Jamie Lynn's response to Allie:
"I must say that I completely disagree with you. You said farther down in your post that you wish Mrs. Vicki's classroom would have been available to you in high school. Obviously, there is a huge difference between the school you attended and the school Mrs. Vicki teaches at. She incorporates all different types of technology in her classroom. Her students are connecting with people all over the world, and her students are independent learners. I doubt you encountered any of this in your classroom. I know for sure that I didn't. Yes, my teachers had smartboards and used powerpoints, and the classroom in the video did not. I, however, don't think we could say that this is a big difference. There are so many resources and tools that are out there that many teachers have no idea exist. The majority of schools are operating like schools 100 years ago. Teachers are still lecturing, while students sit quietly in their desks taking notes. Were Mrs. Vicki's students doing this? No, they weren't. There are only a few teachers like Mrs. Vicki around here; therefore, I don't think your statement is valid. Students could be making podcasts, movies, and Google Earth tours. They could be writing blogs, following teachers and students all over the world, and finding information on their own. You will do all of this in EDM 310, and hopefully, you will incorporate these things into your classroom."

Here is my response to Boone:
"I believe this is an extremely erroneous position to take. Our responsibility as educators is to make sure that all students have the best tools for any subject matter they are studying or project they are undertaking. The best tools we have today - for communicating, for accessing information, for processing data, for recording evidence, for comparing and contrasting information - are tools that are defined as technological tools. And you would keep these from your students? Unfortunately, you are not alone in the educational world. But I will absolutely guarantee you that I would do everything I possibly could to keep my grandchildren out of any class in which you established draconian rules such as you have proposed.

Why don't we debate the issue in a podcast or videocast? We both would probably learn some very important things!"

Jamie Lynn's response to Allie has generated a true discussion about the issues and Allie has indicated a willingness to learn new things.

I just left my response for Boone. It is too early to see whether he and I (and hopefully others) will expand our conversation, or even debate the issues as I suggested.
UPDATE. An extensive conversation has developed. Thirteen comments in less than a day. Join in.

We would be delighted if you would read the posts and the comments and join the conversation! That would be fun. And probably enlightening.

I will discuss the other two items - Great and Quiet - in the next two posts which will be posted soon.