Thursday, March 31, 2011

From a colleague

So much of what we put in A New Culture of Learning turns out to be really easy to apply in the classroom.  It is just a matter of rethinking the space and putting a lot of already available resources to use.

I was thrilled to get a note from a colleague who had done just that:
Hi Doug- just wanted to say how much I love your new book- I read it in a single inspired sitting and immediately re-imagined my lecture that day - instead of mostly my material, I made the lecture into a collage of comments from the students weekly blog posts that turned the auditorium into one big discussion-- it energized the room and was best class we've had all semester.  so thanks
Feels good to know that this stuff works!

Final Project

Last week my students in COMM 339 made me an offer I couldn't resist.  They asked if they could write the "paper prompt" for their final class assignment.  I not only encouraged them to do so, I reserved the last half of class time today to allow them to work in small groups and then as a class to write their assignment.  One of the students then asked (in jest) if they could write the grading rubric as well.  I stunned them by saying yes.

The class is "Communication Technology and Culture" and has focused on the intersection of imagination and technology both through innovation and cultural visions of technology in science fiction.

The students designed a final assignment for the class that was based on many of the principles I had been talking about throughout the semester and provides them with a few options:  one is to "build your own world" another is to "invent and market a piece of fictional technology" and a third is to construct a vision of what the world looks like absent a piece of technology in widespread use today.

The place they struggled with the most was grading.  Even though they had asked to do it, they found it exceedingly difficult to create standards for evaluation that they all could agree on.  The one exception being that bringing food to their final presentation should merit some reward or extra credit.

The papers they wrote from their midterms on principles of remediation in the Frankenstein story were first rate and quite ambitious both in execution and imagination, so I am really looking forward to what they come up with.

I finally settled on the following standard for grading their projects:  I will evaluate them based on how well I feel their project truly captures their passion for the subject and relates it to the course material.

Where imaginations play, learning happens

At the encouragement of others, I am endeavoring to write a blog.  The goal is to try to capture, over time, the implementation of many of the idea from my new book (co-written with John Seely Brown) titled A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change in my classrooms and with my students at the college and graduate levels.  I hope to chronicle both the successes and some of the challenges faced by bringing these ideas of inquiry, collectives, play, embracing change, and indwelling to bear on issue that arise on the college classroom.

The blog title is drawn for the last line of our book, which we believe summarizes our philosophy learning:  "Where imaginations play, learning happens"