Overdue Update

I knew at some point during the semester, I would be too overwhelmed to blog much, and that point came at the junction of creating the English department budget for next year and keeping up with grad school.

Some things I’m thinking about: assessment and professional development, planning a curriculum map/scope and sequence for my department, and NCTE.  Will I see any of you at the conference?  I’m looking forward to going.

I am plugging away in my grad school program, but I’m immensely frustrated by one of my classes to the point that I feel I should warn anyone interested in the program about the class.  It’s required, and it’s a complete waste of time.  It’s outdated, it’s boring busy work, and it’s mostly irrelevant.  It’s also the one that I was most looking forward to when I registered.  It’s a course on using the Web in education.  We have learned nothing, and I mean nothing, about Web 2.0 tools.  Several of the assignments have been redundant collections of links on various subjects.  When I finally thought I’d learned something in the class — fair use — I quickly learned from my blog commenters that even that lesson was outdated.  I was encouraged by one classmate to look at the class as a means to an end, but I admit it bothers me that I paid tuition for it.  And I plan to share this information on my course evaluation, too.  They MUST get this class, and in some respects, the rest of the program into the 21st century.  Why am I reading a book about how we are entering an information age and we need to change how we teach kids that was written in 1993?  Nothing more recent has been written on a similar subject that we can use instead?  I don’t believe it.

On the plus side, I was able to get a student discount for Adobe Studio 8, which was later replaced by Creative Suite.  It comes with Dreamweaver 8, Flash Professional 8, Fireworks 8, Contribute 3, and Flashpaper 2.  I haven’t worked with all of the programs, but I loved Dreamweaver and Fireworks.  I know Dreamweaver throws in a lot of code that isn’t necessary when you use it to create Web sites, but it’s so much easier than coding with HTML.  I used it to build the shell of the Web site that will be my ITMA portfolio.  Most of the pages are placeholders right now except for the home page and résumé, but feel free to watch it for developments!  A permanent link is in the sidebar to the left.

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6 thoughts on “Overdue Update

  1. " … and it is possible that someday men might land on the moon."

    In some ways, it sounds like one of the perennial complaints of school funding re-cycled to an upper level. But it's more than that. Part of it is that we're in the middle of a social change period, just like the change from agricultural to industrial society, and that has brought three problems:

    1) No one is sure yet where and when these changes will end, or where they'll take us.

    2) Just like industrial technology generated faster changes than agricultural society had had, we have not yet — as a society — figured out how to recognize and adapt to the rate of change that computers, the internet, and other e-tech have brought and are bringing.

    3) in general, those in authority positions are those who are most comfortable and most familiar with the old system, and least able — and often least willing — to make effective efforts to address these changes.

    So teaching in general has not kept pace with the social changes, and teching classes not only have that issue, but have the additional hurdle that given the amazingly swift rate at which computer tech becomes superseded and obsolete that anyone who has earned the credentials to teach has done so on old, out of date systems.

    Likewise, a textbook takes (conservatively) a year to write and a year to publish, so it's two years out of date when it first comes out. How long does it take to "earn out" the cost of production, vs. containing no useful info.

    Finally, because of the long tenure-track for teachers, you have long-term teachers for whom this outdated info probably makes a decent entry-point into incorporating tech in the classroom, while younger, technologically savvy teachers are looking for more cutting edge info. (And guess which of those two groups most — though not all — bloggers and blog readers will fall into?)

    I know how excited you were going into the course, and I'm really sorry to hear it has not met your expectations. I almost think this is one of those areas where what's needed isn't so much a class, as a support group, like a writer's workshop, where a group of techno-teachers could help each other and share ideas.

    Thanks for the update. Great stuff, as always.

  2. Having just finished my own Grad work, I completely feel your pain. One of the classes that were a complete waste for me was the Technology in Education class. The teacher was well-meaning and well-informed, but was tied to the textbook and the ridiculous curriculum. There were 35 people in my class and we each had to present a 1/2 hour lesson on how we integrated technology into our classrooms. Imagine how long that took and how awful many of the lessons were. Web 2.0 was covered for about two weeks and, unfortunately, since many of my classmates did not understand it, the teacher moved on.

    I definitely feel that I am a better teacher after having finished my Graduate schooling, but it may have happened in spite of several of my classes. My impression was that the college was behind the curve. I learn more reading blogs (like yours) than I did in several of my classes.

  3. I've had one class so bad I calculated the cost per minute.

    One of the problems with graduate education is that many professors are technophobes — barely email literate, let alone really understanding web 2.0 concepts.

  4. Dana,

    I'm not sure how much you realize this, but you are a leader in the field of education. Your blog is popular because you effectively use the medium and disseminate compelling ideas. ..you probably have a bigger impact on education than your professor does. You might want to look at this as an opportunity. Is there a way that you could explain what's missing from the class to him/her in a nonthreatening way?

    You have the credibility (and responsibility?) to try that.

    If not–if I'm off base about the situation–then sometimes our bad teaching experiences help our teaching–they teach us what not to do and strengthen our mental framework for what good teaching is all about.

    Whenever I feel the temptation to mail it in, I think about some bad professors I had in my graduate program…don't want to be in that ilk.

    Are you going to NCTE? Did you touch base with Mike Lomo? See you there. (reply via my email if you get a chance)

    Chris

  5. PP: Good points.

    Chad: Your last paragraph resonates with me, and I hope no one ever says that about my classes.

    Liz: It's scary when an Instructional Technology program isn't up on the technology.

    Kris: Thanks for the link; I'll check it out.

    Chris: You make me feel both proud and humble at once. You are right. I should speak up. I'm scared to because of grades — not just with this class, but with the future. So of course, I wisely complain about it in a public forum where they could possibly see it anyway!

    I'm not sure I see this as bad teaching. I'm under the impression there is a set curriculum that has been written by someone — I don't know who — and the poor person evaluating my assignments is just a grader. At least, my teachers were presented to me as "graders." That's how they introduced themselves. Because of that, I'm not sure who wrote the curriculum or how long ago, and I hate to take it out on someone who is just checking off my work on a rubric.

    I am going to NCTE, and I did check in with Mike. I look forward to meeting you!

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