Tuesday, July 1, 2008

PL 10/08: Teaching in the fall

Filed under: education, LATINA, library 2.0 — Tags: , , — plinius @ 5:30 am

The LATINA summer course uses the blog system WordPress as a shared learning platform.

In addition we asked all participants to create their own blogs at the start of the course. Such course blogs can be used for many different purposes. One of them is focused reflexion. Yesterday we gave the class the following task:

Reflexion and feedback with blogs

Towards the end of each day – starting Monday June 30 – you should take at least fifteen minutes and write a blog post. In the post you should look back at the day and identify some of the events, problems, techniques or ideas that

  • contributed to your personal learning
  • contributed to the learning process in the group as a whole

This exercise will be most effective if you describe concrete incidents from a personal perspective.

Let me give a personal example:

What did I learn on Friday?

Looking back on Friday, I was glad I decided to drop 23 things and to concentrate on wikipedia instead. As a teacher I am easily tempted to focus on all the wonderful things I want the students to learn – and not on the “natural” rhythm of the group. The learning sequence: brief introduction to Wikipedia – individual exploration – sharing results in small groups – and a brief plenary, seemed to work well.

I liked the Chinese picture of the bowl and the bucket. It reminds me of Paulo Freire, the greatr Brazilian education, who spoke about the piggy bank method of teaching., The teacher has all the good stuff inside his head – and puts it into the student (the piggy bank) one coin at a time. Oink, oink!

It is VERY hard to break with this pattern, I find. The best way for me is always to plan the day in terms of social fomats: so much lecture time (keep it short!), so much individual work, so much small group work (work tasks MUST be clear), so much plenary discussion, and so on. VARIATION is a key.

When the projector broke down, we had to work without the big screen – but the small computers were still working. This was a completely new situation for me – and I must think more about suitable exercises in such cases …

I liked “interviewing” people from each small group, about the group discussion, in front of the class – it is a very flexible way of conducting a plenary discussion. Having the Smartboard as well, made it easy to present and compare pages on malaria in English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian … never done that before. Smartboard really adds a whole new dimension to digital teaching/learning.


You can choose who shall be able to read the blog post. You have, in principle, four possibilities:

  1. Publish the post on the open web, so that anybody can read it.
  2. Publish the post with a password that is shared by the class, so that all LATINA participants can read it. The common password will be provided in class …
  3. Publish the post with a password that you share with the teachers, so that only you and they can read it
  4. Publish the post with a private password, so tha5 only you can read it.

Bowls, buckets and barrels

When I presented this exercise to the class, I used a Chinese picture of education to illustrate the difference between the old and the new reality.

“A child should have a bowl’s water”, is a Chinese saying, “and a teacher should have a bucket’s water”.

The child, in other words, should be able to fill her small bowl from the teacher’s big bucket of knowledge.

In a digital world, this relationship breaks down. Student and teachers both have access to the infinity of knowledge on the web. We find ourselves in barrels – going down the Niagara falls together.

So we have to find out: How can we teach while falling?



  1. […] PL 10/08. Teaching in the fall […]

    Pingback by P 154/08 « Plinius — Thursday, July 3, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  2. […] 10/08. Teaching in the fall. From information poor to information rich […]

    Pingback by P 22/09: Når utdanning blir global « Plinius — Saturday, February 14, 2009 @ 8:23 am

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