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Collaborative Homework Sessions

Posted by on Friday, July 26, 2013 in Reflections.

Today we had our first collaborative work session.  We watched the videos for Lesson 2 and completed the mapping assignment.

I have a few observations.

1.  I really appreciated the ability to “talk things out” with Cliff and Mona today.  I didn’t realize how this mattered in my comprehension of the material in Lesson One versus Lesson Two.  Today, after watching each video, we asked a few pointed questions, such as “What is he trying to achieve?” or “What was that segment about?”  Our discussions demonstrated that we all heard varying amounts of the details.  I realize that I would have missed a lot of the content, without my friends there.  I also appreciated the ability to “synthesize” the content through conversations with others.

2.  Completing the mapping assignment was a whole lot of fun in the group environment.  We helped each other through the maze of ArcGIS menus and explained different concepts,such as layer transparencies, to each other.  This environment kept me moving and motivated to do the entire assignment.

3.  I did much better on the quiz, this time.

4.  The bottom fell out once they left and I felt the same ole “lack of interest or “I don’t care” attitude once I went into the discussion forums.  If I were an undergrad, perhaps I would have posed the famous question “What do I have to do to get an A?”   I realize that perhaps it’s not the discussion forum topics or even the assignment itself, it’s just that it’s very one-way.  I post something and I don’t have synchronous feedback to what I post.  This did not happen in the conversation session.  I was once again motivated to post comments such as “wow, that’s neat” or to fabricate something profound just so I could get my four posts in.  I have the notion that I made much more interesting comments to Cliff and Mona during our discussions than I did in the forums.

What kind of puzzles me about what I have just typed I consider myself a very autonomous learner and I am extremely introverted.  So, what is this thing about me wanting a learning community ?  I often smirk when people use that terminology around me.    Could there be some truth to what they say about the social aspect of learning?

How can we better create this in a MOOC?  Because this is what’s missing for me in this course.

2 Comments on “Collaborative Homework Sessions”

Todd, I entirely agree with your post. Doing the lesson with you and Cliff was SO much better than doing it alone. And, like you, I feel like I learned so much more through our discussions than when just reading the text or listening to the video alone.

Mona Frederick on July 26th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Very interesting, Todd. Your comments about moving to the discussion boards after Cliff and Mona had left made me think about my own use of blogs and Twitter in conjunction with face-to-face learning environments, academic conference in particular. I’ll often share the “highlights” of conference conversations and sessions on social media, because I imagine that those who read my blog posts and tweets might find those highlights interesting. That is, I’m taking the best of a synchronous learning experience and sharing it asynchronously with a different set of people.

As I reflect on this now, I think what helps motivate me to do so is that I have a fairly concrete sense of my blog and Twitter audience. I don’t know if my sense is accurate, but it’s concrete enough that I can imagine readers interested in those “highlights.” That is, I feel like I’m sharing with a learning community to which I belong. The Coursera discussion boards don’t have that feel. I can post there, but I have little sense of who might read and respond to that post. Perhaps, Todd, you’re feeling the same thing, that there’s a lack of, I don’t know, reciprocity in the discussion boards.

I suspect that I could get to the point where the Coursera discussion boards feel more like a learning community, but I would have to spend a lot more time there first. And, as I indicated in an earlier post here on the group blog, have some way of following individuals in that discussion space.

Derek Bruff on July 28th, 2013 at 10:31 pm

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