“Where are all the other students?”
The brief for the final assignment of the Open Education MOOC run by the Open University (#h817open) was to reflect on the question of openness in education. Participants were asked to create a video covering one of the following elements:
- What aspect of openness in education interests you most (and why)?
- What the future direction of open education will be in your opinion, justifying your answer.
- Your experience of studying an open course versus traditional, formal education.
My contribution (my first ever video creation!) was made with the help of Xtranormal.
It is a not too serious look at how students can feel isolated by the open online courses.
It doesn’t necessarily help to be one of thousands enrolled on a course if you can’t make any real connections with other learners.
RELIGULOUS directed by Larry Charles (USA, 2008)
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so”. The words of the Christian hymn are as simplistic as a nursery rhyme and far from being a deep reflection on faith, yet this entertaining documentary shows that the majority cling to beliefs based on arguments that are rarely more complex than this.
The movie’s clunky title - a portmanteau word combining ‘religious’ and ‘ridiculous’ – makes it plain that it doesn’t set out to be a balanced academic analysis. Written and presented by comedian Bill Maher, whose background is half Jewish – half Catholic, it is a shamelessly opinionated piece in the Michael Moore mould.
Mayer is a smart and articulate agnostic but since the whole one hour forty minutes is centred on him, his smug, self-satisfied manner gets a little tiresome at times. He makes a lot of good points but also has a tendency to be heavy-handed. For example, when one man says that he is looking forward to the afterlife, Maher bluntly asks him what stops him from committing suicide.
Despite these flaws, Maher reveals how otherwise intelligent, rational minded individuals have a knack of reading of the bible with blinkers on, conveniently glossing over the holy book’s inconsistencies, inaccuracies and absurdities. View full article »
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:
- Don’t make fun of strange students – a colleague had an experience where a young guy came into his lesson late wearing a crash helmet. He sat at the back and banged his head against the wall repeatedly. Others in the class whispered that he should ignore him. He followed their advice.
- Go easy on dry, understated, ‘English’ humour – students have a nasty habit of taking you seriously when you mean to be ironic. I once told a class that they would have to come to extra classes during the Christmas break and I still remember the look of panic on some of the faces.
- Just because an activity works for one group, don’t make the mistake of assuming it will work for every group.
- Don’t assume macho guys have a sensitive side.
- Don’t assume dumb-looking blondes have a serious side.
- Don’t wear a heavy shirt in summer – profuse sweating can be seriously embarrassing.
- Don’t persevere with an activity when it is clearly not working
- Don’t show you’re flexible and kind-hearted in the first lesson – better to start strict and then lighten up if/when it feels safe to do so.
- Don’t treat students like empty vessels to be filled. If you respect them , they’ll respect you. (At least that’s the theory!)
- Don’t start a class without a standby activity – a contingency plan will save your bacon one day
Today is my birthday and , having taken a very big breath and blown out all my candles, my wish is for a surge in blog views.
Since the beginning of 2013 the number of views to this blog has halved.
Rather than being a sign that the quality of posts has declined (perish the thought!), this seems to be the result of Google’s revamped image search engine. View full article »
Yesterday, I spent more time than was probably merited on thinking up questions to get students of a new course engaged in the idea that learning is about more than simply attending my lessons.
On reflection, I should have just written up the questionnaire compiled by Gardner Campbell, a professor at Virginia Tech:
This image is a screen capture from Gardner Campbell’s highly recommended talk ‘Ecologies of Yearning’ which was one of the resources on the e-learning & digital cultures MOOC.