Around midterm, I shared a few ideas since we were all aware that this course was in its infancy. I’ve gone back to those suggestions and readdressed my thoughts below.
However, throughout this course I kept another aspect in mind: how would I possibly teach this course myself? For one, it seems impossible to discover a thesis topic, yet alone lean on expert advice when every other topic is calling for the same attention. To reflect on my experience in this course, I learned much more about the process of exploring a topic equally as much as I gained more experience into researching methods.
I also discovered the obvious. When researching and analyzing existing theses and peer topics (evolving), that a majority of topics all related to the same or a combination of the same core topics: education, technology, social issues, collaboration, communication or methodology. I know, duh. However, it’s easy to get too submersed in our own topic, spin our wheels, become frustrated and feel that we have nothing significant to investigate while others are doing the same thing. Therefore, I soon learned to remain persistent and not to allow myself to become overly-emphatic about defending my topic. It’s a fine line with being passionate while remaining open to outside perspective– that much, I’m familiar with. What I’m not completely satisfied with is the breadth of my topic… then again, I have time to investigate after the quarter.
1. Collaboration Center Sessions
I love the encouragement for audio feedback during a peer presentation. At some point, I could see making this mandatory, yet I realize that the technology quirks can ruin the mood. Faulty connections are bound to occur, but I love hearing a voice.
Perhaps, if there’s a need to have better flow, we could take advantage of the icon list at the top for “Raise Hand” or “Ask a Question.” These features have been rarely utilized with past courses, but provide structure and expectations in order to avoid audio interruptions or massive commenting.
Limit the Collaboration Center session to 1 hour or instead, establish a 15-30 minute break in between long sessions. Holding everyone to 5-10 minutes for Q&A with a single objective in mind might also help stimulate engagement or pace. A single objective might help to create expectations for what to comment on. If the session goes over the 1 hour limit, we could have the option to leave the session.
2. Blogs: Sense of Community
I love the blogs, but I often think that there’s a disconnect or an unnecessary repetition of having to post to the blog and post to the discussion board. Pairing us in different teams to comment on the discussion or blog, might help to create a sense of community throughout the units. At some point I could see how changing teams would help to diversify interests and lend as a refreshing change.
Perhaps address a deadline (Thursday or Friday) for posting comments to the discussion board, rather than by end of unit. Although, I do love this type of flexibility, I find myself commenting later-than expected or worse, receiving no feedback at all.
4. Concept Map Collaboration
Create a discussion post early in the course that focuses on 3 student thesis topics and their concept maps in PDF format. Since we’re all visual people, have peers comment on each student thesis topic, by adding PDF notes to the concept map. This could help to encourage branching out the concept map or to narrow the focus of the thesis topic.
It might help (as a motivational factor) to have required discussions on the research methods over the duration of the course. The primary resource hunt was challenging, yet rewarding since I gained a better idea of how to tap into different resources.