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!


  1. So the next obvious question is how do we get our pre-service teachers to forget about how they were taught in school and ignore the high-stakes testing that schools are required to give and use this model?

  2. I have a really wild idea. Have our newly taught teachers teach the teachers in the schools right now. My only problem: How in the world do I pull that off? I am working on the details.

  3. I have been thinking about this a little too. Perhaps you could hold a tech conference for the local school district and have your students do the workshops. It would be a more traditional conference than an edcamp, but it would allow your students to lead sessions and get teachers exposed to the tools.

  4. I have really enjoyed reading your follow up posts about the things that go on in our labs. It is great to see that there is a good bit of learning happening both among students and with the help of our wonderful lab assistants. It was also nice to see that you quoted some of our comments in your post because it showed me that many people in the class have shared the same feelings as I have. I can now tell people who are scared to take EDM 310 that they should not be nervous at all because there is so much help available to them. I feel that as long as any student is willing to work and has the desire to learn, EDM 310 will be both very fun and beneficial to them as future teachers.

  5. Hey, Dr. Strange. I was suppose to post on your blog last week, but for some reason it didn't post correctly. So, I'll just sum up what I had said. I basically said that I was a little hesitant when I found out all of the assignments for this class was to posted on a blog. It wasn't so much the idea of working with technology or working on my own that bothered me. It was the idea of having my name and information about me online where everyone can see it. I don't facebook or twitter. I kind of preferred to go under the social radar. But since the beginning of this course, I have been slowing coming out of my shell. Just last week, I put a video on youtube for this class. That is something I would have never even considered before this class. It is not that I am shy, I just have a problem with strangers knowing I exist. But I am working through it.

  6. Thanks Ann-Marie. Your students will be there (online). You must be there too. If you are always a professional it will only help!

  7. I have to admit it -- it took me a little while to warm up to the idea of a 'learning community'. What can I say? Old habits are hard to break. However, now that I can see the benefits, I think that once I'm a teacher with my own class I will try my best to foster this type of learning environment.