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."


  1. Dr. Strange, I have to say that I definitely agree with calling any experience such as the one that Anthony described a great one. I am sure that you wish that those kinds of interactions among students continue to happen in the labs for your class. During the summer, when you emailed a copy of the syllabus, I was incredibly nervous about taking your class because I thought that I would have to trudge through all of this work alone. Now, at this point in the semester, I am greatly appreciative to the lab assistants and the time that they spend helping us all out. I have spent time in the lab each week so far, and none of the lab assistants have ever done the work for me, therefore I have actually learned. It is wonderful for us as students to be able to help each other out and communicate with each other when we are having problems. I have always believed that you do not truly understand something unless you have the ability to teach it to someone else, and this is exactly what the lab assistants are encouraging us to do. Because of the things that happen in the labs, I am actually greatly enjoying a class that I used to be afraid of.

  2. Dr, Strange, I liked your story about Anthony and the students in the lab. When this class first started I was so nerves and really did not think I would be able to learn and figure out all the things you had planed for me and my fellow students. The first time I made a visit to the lab I remember being so frustrated and nerves at the same time. I am the kind of person that asking for help doesn’t come natural. I knew that every thing I needed to know was in the instruction manual and I didn’t want to seem like I was being lazy by asking for help, but I needed it. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t the only one that needed help. I also noticed that it wasn’t just the lab assistances helping students on their blogs I also saw students helping other students. I was still a little hesitant to ask for help but I did and after the lab assistant helped me figure out what I was doing wrong I felt so much better. A few minutes after a friend of mine walked into the lab and she was having the same problems I was. I was able to show her what I had learned and she was able to move threw her problem a lot faster. I felt like I had really learned the skill I was taught because I was able to successfully teach the skill to some one.

  3. Well, Dr. Strange, I can understand what Anthony meant by 'intense' -- that was a rather intense debate that developed on Allie Glass' Blog #2! And I agree with you and Jaime Lynn: not preparing our students by not using the best available educational tools in an increasingly technological world is doing them a great disservice. And I also fully agree with what Andy meant by 'great' -- the best learning environment is one that fosters a "learning community."

  4. Hi there Dr. Strange,

    I must applaud you for creating such a well put together class. When you first emailed me during the summer, I was extremely overwhelmed by the amount of attention this class requires. I've never blogged before this, but now I see a whole new use for the internet. I have learned that blogging can be used as means of some intellectual communication and exchanges. It allows you to see other people's points of views, while allowing you to comment or debate about it.

    On the other hand, I'm glad you have hired such an amazing, helpful, and patient staff. Your lab assistants keep us on track by giving us helpful tips and guidance. At first, it seemed I couldn't do anything without Anthony's help, but now, he has taught me how to solve my problems and even assist a few of my classmates with the things I've learned.

    Overall, I would have to say it really is an honor to be learning under your wing!
    Oh, and thank you for the book! I can't wait to start reading it! I really do appreciate it!