Getting Disruptive

My colleague Scott McDonald and I are getting set to embark on the second running of our Disruptive Technologies for Teaching and Learning course this Spring. We attack this thing as a grand experiment, not really knowing what to expect fully but with hopes of high level activity. We know some things will work and some things will not, but at the core of our design philosophy we feel OK with that. We spent a couple of hours yesterday putting some more touches on what we hope will be an open and engaging learning opportunity. What is emerging is what we hope to be a very powerful mix of academic rigor and applied technology investigations.

So far we have solid numbers in this graduate only course and know we’ll find ways to push our students into unfamiliar and uncomfortable waters. Scott and I have big questions heading into this new semester — primarily what technologies will move the students into the same kind of round the clock learning community we saw emerge last time? We feel like we are better prepared to collect data from the get go and see how we can be more systematic about sharing the things we learn. The course is timely as Scott and I recently completed an article that focuses on the key trends and drivers we see as disrupting current classroom practice. The article should be available in the next month or so, but we will be using it as a kicking off point for the course this Spring.

For those of you who are interested I will be posting thoughts about the course here during the semester and you can also watch as the course will evolve in the open at the course site. We are taking a cue from another one of our PSU colleagues (and TLT Faculty Fellow) ,Dr. Christopher Long, who has been talking about the course site not as a blog per se, but as an ongoing text that is contributed to by all the members of the course. Our goal is to keep our course site going semester over semester so that current students can build on the work of the past. Another grand experiment I suppose!

10 thoughts on “Getting Disruptive

  1. Hi Cole,
    Looking forward to Scott’s and your course this Spring and your ongoing reflective posts. I listened to your “Community Engagement: How Disruptive Technologies Enabled New Social Learning” webcast during the summer and was interested in how you aggregated and filtered blog posts with Pligg – perhaps that will be evident during the course? In addition you mentioned rubrics during the talk and am wondering if you will be using them to assess student work?
    Joe Fahs

  2. Hi Joe, Scott and I are hedging on the use of strict rubrics this time around … doesn’t mean we won’t but we just aren’t sure. The one thing that really confounded us last time was figuring out how much each piece of conversation mattered — in other words we struggled with tweets vs f2f chatter vs blog posts vs podcasts vs etc. See what I mean? Students just started talking on so many platforms last time that it made us rethink what class participation was all about. As far as Pligg goes, we aren’t using it this time. We lose the social ratings but we like the idea of trying the class blog where all students are a contributor. We hope it leads to deeper connections, but we shall see!
    @Shannon … hopefully you’ll be able to do more than just follow like last time!

  3. @donnamar … you are always welcome to lurk – or better yet show up and share some thoughts with us!
    @Michael … I’d love to have you keep track of what we are up to. The best way is via the course site — all the activity will happen there in the open. One thing I’ve thought about is how we can integrate people from the outside in. Would you be interested in giving a remote talk to the class on the things you are up to? If so, just let me know — you guys are doing some majorly disruptive stuff!

  4. I am not sure what you mean by a “strict rubric,” but I think you are right to reconsider how “participation” is assessed. I prefer a more qualitative approach that still uses a rubric, but does not involve counting tweets or comments or posts.
    My pedagogical goal here is to cultivate the habit of critically engaged writing throughout the semester. Students always want a number (of posts or comments or whatever) because they want to check that off the list of requirements. I have resisted this, giving only a number for an adequate grade but not for a good or excellent one. This implies that they are never really done writing reflectively about the material in the class.
    I want them to start thinking about everything that happens in the class – readings, discussions, other posts, etc. – as opportunities for reflection in writing. I think of this as habituating a blogging mentality, which is nothing other than internalizing the habits of what I have called the writing life:

  5. @cole I’ve done some guest appearances via G-Chat and Skype before. Would be happy to where relevant. How can I prepare? I have some entrepreneurship in education slides hanging around somewheres….. Do you focus on marketing, product design?

  6. Cole – Would you talk a little more about your thought process with the one class blog? If I’m following, it seems in the past you fed in student’s personal blogs and now you are going to one blog with multiple authors. Is that correct?
    Why move away from the aggregation model?

  7. As we went into this semester we were a little dismayed that all the great content that has been produced over the last few years is now gone. When the students end the class they don’t tend to maintain their personal blog — and I think a big reason for that is that they usually set up a brand new blog just for the class and don’t see it as something of general purpose. The other thing is that unless there is a killer aggregation piece they don’t seem to see the community aspect come to life. They are off writing on their own and once the content is aggregated, they get little to no comments back at their own blog.
    The idea here is ask them to be part of a community space from the start. The space will have greater staying power b/c it is under the control of Scott and I, not the students. Our hope is to build an ongoing text where comments and posts happen in an ongoing fashion. We are also interested to see if any students will participate after the course is over … that would be very cool.
    In the past we used Pligg to aggregate content and it was relatively successful. The problem is that it is a bit of a pain to manage and administer … that’s another big reason. Back in 2002 I did a study of student blog use and it was based on a single class blog. The results were really interesting and I’d honestly like to see if that can be replicated. All of it is a grand experiment … maybe next time we’ll do it a different way.

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