In terms of what I'm struggling in my multimedia class, a couple broad statements might help set the stage for the point of this post:
1. I believe that students who see their teacher passionate about something are more likely to buy in.
2. I believe that students are more engaged in their own learning when they have input into the direction of their learning to specialize in areas of interest.
Statement 1: Teacher Passion
I might also call this being the 'Nerdy Teacher'. I remember those teachers that where so passionate about their subject that they lived and breathed what they taught. Hopefully my students can see this about me. It's important for students to see teachers as humans and having passions and interests. Passion for the job and subject comes in many forms, but if that isn't shared with students, there can be a disconnect. My issue is that there are so many things I'm interested in doing in the classroom that I find it difficult to focus my own teaching.
Statement 2: Student Input
Giving students the power to have a say in what they are going to learn: a 'new' concept in education! Within multimedia I have the fortune to be able to offer students the chance to design their own projects to achieve outcomes in the modules. The problem for me right now is working with students to be able to recognize and communicate their learning based on the outcomes. One direction where I see my course going is to an individualized learning model where students pick and choose their path through the course, developing an 'un-course' that is 100% customized. It's what I do when I want to learn something so why not let them try?
The biggest problem with creating a student customized course is the institution of school itself. First, I think students are pre-programmed and trained in school to be passive learners. They know how to play "the game of school." Students have become experts at dissecting really quickly what is most important in each assignment from what a teacher tells them. I see it around me all the time. Students are working on posters in the library for a parti
cular class. They spend hours of time making the posters look great because they are still getting marks for use of colour and neatness!! ARRRGGHHH! Very frustrating. In this case students know what's really important to the teacher is not the content, the concept, or big idea, but rather the flashy shiny stuff. I remember when Powerpoint was thought of by many as such a great educational tool. While it can be, too often teachers who didn't know how to use it as a tool, were enamoured by the glitz and awarded greater marks because of it.
So Where Does This Leave Me?
I recently commented in an email to Dean Senn (who is blogging now and that's just awsome) that this kind of thinking actually keeps my up at night. In the next few weeks I need to wrap my brain around how I'm actually going to pull off giving all students the power to decide of the projects they want to complete. Some might be doing animation, some might be doing TV, some video, and some won't know what they want to do. Perhaps this is why I feel like a Jack of all trades, and a master of some. (My own Jack is on the left)The reality of facilitating true student choice may be too much to handle for me right now, but I'm going to see this one through. The greatest detractor to a 100% customized course based on students needs is that it takes a ton of work. This is going to test my own organizational skills in this uncharted territory. I think I have an idea of how to combine the idea of student choice with my other desire to have students who work to develop skill sets they can draw from when they leave high school. All the while I feel like that to offer this diversified choice in class, my own skills are diminishing in value. Perhaps I'm going to need to get used to being the facilitator who fosters student interest rather than an expert in one field of editing or animation, or photography. More on that to come....
Any thoughts? Comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated on this one folks!