Course Checkpoint #1
Hi Gang, it's another stormy Monday! Another great thing about using an interactive online tool like this in a learning context is that physical barriers like a huge snow storm don't stand in the way of our progress.
Anyway, I'm here, snowed in, at home thinking of you all and wondering what I can do to make the course experience more effective and enjoyable for you all. Even though I may not be able to act upon everything, at this point I would really value some carefully considered feedback.
Here in our important course blog we have been exploring the evolution of communication technologies, and the now central role of the computer, the Internet, and the World Wide Web, in all facets of society. Many of you have been doing your part in these explorations by engaging in the discussion here, adding thoughtful comments, and using hyperlinks to point us to interesting or cool content around the Web. For that I thank you. Keep it up. Others, it seems, have yet to engage online, which is a vital aspect of the course. To help you to participate more richly I will try to make more posts here in hopes that it creates more room for everyone to comment. I want to point out again that you can add to or begin a discussion anywhere within this blog. You'll notice that, within a new post, I often link to an older one. Any of these posts may jog within you a thought that would make for an interesting development in the discussion.....so post it!
Last day in class I think I lured myself into an area of geek speak that may have caused some of you some concern. Don't worry. This is exactly what I don't want to do. While everyone in the class should make an effort to lose any aversion they may have to technology, or technical terminology, I, too, will make an effort to keep the course on track and away from any unnecessary technical geekery!
Again, the first few weeks of this course when we talk about the Networking Age and the meaning of concepts like computing, software, networking, and communication, just to name a few, is really just to pique your interest and to set the stage for current trends in information technology. We will soon turn our attention to the commercial forces of this age and how we can use information technology to take advantage of them!
With those introductory words out of the way, let me invite you now to provide any suggestions you have for making this learning experience better. What is working? What is missing?
Posted by Mark Hemphill on January 24, 2005 | Permalink
Mark, I find the lack of structure in the course tough to figure out. I mean we have spent the are whole academic career being told what to do. It is also difficult to know what is right. I am not sure what to believe, no offense to anyone posting but I am looking at different post and the links and they are saying different things and I am not sure which one is correct. I like the idea of sharing ideas but I would like to know which one to believe. Other than that the subjects seem to bring up a lot of conversation, and seem to be interesting. Maybe I need to adjust more to the course I do not know just posting an oppinion.
Posted by: Tim Gairns | Jan 24, 2005 12:36:46 PM
Tim, good point. I know what you mean.
I view the group "discovery" aspect of this sort of collective learning, and the difference of opinion that comes with it, not as a trade-off but as a vital, helpful aspect even if it can, at times, throw curve balls.
Yes, I will sometimes point out the difficulties or what I feel are just plain untruths in any comments posted here. Not everything can be boiled down to such objective measures however, and I think one of the most valuable skills you can learn today is to think for yourself, and to recognize sound reasoning when you see it. Opinions can and should vary here. I will try to make it clear when I'm stating a (well proven) fact. Often I will link to a source (if it's a quality source, that is an important first measure of reliability). And I will promise NOT to hold you responsible for factual explanations of the ambiguous areas.
Most important, when you are unsure, chances are someone else is unsure. That is when you should raise the point....and ask what is right.
Posted by: Mark | Jan 24, 2005 1:09:38 PM
The only concern I have is what we will be tested on. Will it be the topics posted on this site or will it be the topics discussed in class, or both?
Posted by: Chris Welton | Jan 24, 2005 1:39:31 PM
I enjoy the weblog aspect of the course, Mark, it's always interesting to see what other people feel about certain issues. I also was wondering what the tests will include, if it will include the lecture material or the topics covered in the weblogs.
Posted by: Darcy Kelly | Jan 24, 2005 1:43:25 PM
Although I'm still finding it difficult to adjust to this method of teaching, it is pretty interesting. It gives everyone more of an opportunity to speak out on topics discussed in class and it can also help in the learning process.
Because of the lack of structure, I'm also worried about the material that will be covered on a test. I'm not really sure how to prepare for one.
Posted by: Lindsay Hill | Jan 24, 2005 2:02:53 PM
The course so far as been somewhat enjoyable. Sometimes I find myself lost in the information and wondering what to do. I'm not used to having a class structured this way, therefore it can be difficult to know what direction to go in. Besides that I find that it is an interesting way to show people what the internet and world wide web is, having the chance to use and see if for themselves.
Posted by: Michelle | Jan 24, 2005 2:03:25 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think "we" are the structure of this course. This class is a step towards decentralizing the learning system in that we get to direct the material through our views and opinions as opposed to a standard outline. Considering that we have no text to follow, more emphasis is placed on the discussions we have through weblogs. I'll need you to back me up on this Mark, but I think if we keep up with the weblogs and class attendence, we should be prepared for the tests?
Posted by: Ricky G | Jan 24, 2005 2:21:42 PM
It is an interesting experience to have a course like this one. We have the opportunity to learn in a different way which may or may not improve learning for some students. So far, I am enjoying the course but I, too, struggle to follow some of the computer jargon used in the course. I understand that it is difficult to avoid this at times and that every effort is put into making this as understandable as possible. As Business students, it is important that we learn the terminology relating to the computer, the internet etc..I think that this course will provide us with that opportunity! Learning by way of the 'net is a great experience also. It is tough to get used to this way of learning but again, it will prepare us for the world of business in the future!
Posted by: Sally Ripley | Jan 24, 2005 2:37:20 PM
I have found that this course, yes be a little structured out of the ordinary, has allowed for us to expand our thinking and interaction with others in a more (as Ricky G said) "decentralized" fashion. I, along with many others, have a little concern over what kind of material we will be responsible for knowing. But, I find this course gives us a little taste of the freedom we have always been looking for, to express our views in our own manner
Posted by: Melissa MacLaren | Jan 24, 2005 3:01:13 PM
After the first few weeks of class I am finding myself in the same boat as Michelle is in. The course is set up in a unique way that really makes you think about the material we are covering. I also seem to be lost in what's really going on concerning class structure and course material. That's not to say I don't enjoy the course because to this point I have found it quite interesting.
Posted by: Will Zafiris | Jan 24, 2005 3:26:24 PM
I find this course to be very interesting and most definitly ordinary. What is so interesting to me is, what better way can you learn about IT, then by actually being part of it. Every discussion that occurs on this has to do with the subject of Information Technology. The discussions lodged on this weblog have furthered my knowledge of the world of IT and my interest in the subject as well. I believe that as long as you participate in these discussions and read the content posted you should have all the knowledge you need to be prepared for any tests or CRITS that we might have.
Posted by: John W. MacDonald | Jan 24, 2005 3:36:57 PM
Some sample questions would be great Mark.. just to give us an idea of the type of questions we could expect to see on a CRIT. It might help everyone to judge if they are picking up on the rights points, reading for enough information..etc..And, not to repeat what everyone has said, but the class has been intresting thus far and it has made us THINK about the material not just memorize content from someone's book
Posted by: Tracy Dixon | Jan 24, 2005 4:06:04 PM
I have found the class to be very refreshing and interesting up to this point. I'll admit that it has been hard to follow at times where we may be going but the conversations have led us down some very deep and interesting paths. I agree that we should perhaps be given some notice on CRIT's or at least what to expect on the first one. I would find it difficult at this point to know exactly what I was responsible for. Perhaps we may be better prepared than we think. Overall, I have found the course very interesting up to this point and have enjoyed it.
Posted by: Darcy Butler | Jan 24, 2005 4:18:55 PM
Once again, I'm going to agree with the majority, because I really enjoy the structure and flow of this course, but often find myself wondering if I'm on the right track. So far, so good (i think).
Posted by: Danielle Ball | Jan 24, 2005 4:38:17 PM
5 words, no mid-term, no final, thank-you
Posted by: william | Jan 24, 2005 5:01:52 PM
This course structure is definatly new to almost everyone, and in my opinion, has been difficult to adjust to. Despite this, I think it is an insight to the direction that education and learning is going - to a less centralized, more flexible structure. Therefore, although breaking away from the norm isn't easy, I think we are moving in the right direction. Where our marks come from, primarily, is also my concern. However, I find Mark makes a strong emphasis on the importance of posting blogs, indicating the large contribution this participation will have on our overall mark. I agree with Tracy, who mentioned above that a few sample CRIT questions may provide us with a better understanding of what to expect.
Posted by: Johanna Egan | Jan 24, 2005 5:10:57 PM
I am enjoying the direction this course is heading. It has provided insight to an avarage user of the Internet and web, and made me more confident in my knowledge and skills. I also believe that we have nothing to worry about concerning the tests or CRIT's. When i say this i don't mean that i have complete knowledge of what is going on...but i am beginning to grasp the major concept of the course. I believe that the weblogs are very important, and they are a great addition to not only this course but could be useful in many others.
Posted by: Nick Holland | Jan 24, 2005 5:54:55 PM
Great comments so far guys, keep em coming.
Generally speaking, the assumptions you're making here are good ones! And yes Ricky (and others) you're right....I'm hoping the form of this learning experience jives with the content. A bit more decentralized than other courses perhaps.
As for testing....I know it's on all of your minds. The CRITs will for the most part be multiple choice and fill in the blank style. They're not intended to test you on your brilliant memorization of everything we discuss. Rather they're there to reinforce reading of this weblog, participation, and yes, attendance in class. Any question that might appear on a crit will be related to a MAIN topic (and yes found in the main part of the narrative). Don't forget, after you've completed a crit you complete one in a group effort....and if you don't miss a CRIT all semester, you're rewarded by receiving the higher of your individual or group result on all CRITs. Students do worry about these things...cause they are not announced. But history shows that CRITs usually bring your mark up. A more challenging and critical component of your evaluation might be in the area of assignments, participation, and yes the (soon to introduced) research project.
*It is natural at times to feel unsure as to whether or not you're "on track" with this course. Why? There are less objective measures. No two people are the same, and in this course, no two learning paths are exactly the same. Don't feel anxious if you grasp one concept and are a little fuzzy on another. And don't feel anxious if a classmate "gets" something you don't. Be patient with yourself....and diligent. Even if you don't agree with everything, wour understanding will grow as we recursively revisit topics and pencil in more detail. You will get something out of this course if you try!
Posted by: Mark | Jan 24, 2005 6:01:05 PM
It seems like everyone is in the same boat. It's a different way of learning, which I'm not sure if I like or not. I guess it's because we're not use to it that's all. I just don't know what to expect on the tests and CRITS. Is it just basically what we read on here and what we talk about in class, because so far it seems like we didn't really learn a whole lot.
Posted by: Leanne MacKinnon | Jan 24, 2005 6:25:11 PM
After reading everyone's comments, I would have to agree with most that the structure of the class is definitely not one which I am used to. I'm a little anxious to get the first CRIT over with so I'll know what to expect and what material to study for the next ones. However, I really enjoy the weblogs. It's a great way to get participation marks and there is always something new to discuss.
Posted by: Kate MacNeill | Jan 24, 2005 8:12:34 PM
I have to agree with everyone else for the most part. I enjoy the structure of the class. It might be a little different, but it is a welcomed change. However, I am still a little concerned about the first Crit and the research assignment.
Posted by: Kris MacPhee | Jan 24, 2005 8:27:31 PM
Adjusting to this type of course is my biggest concern. I like it, but feel lost at the same time. It is interesting listening to what people have to say in class and on the weblogs. I know I need to start posting more frequently. I'm finding it really hard not having a working computer at my apt. I'm hoping that problem will be fixed soon though. As far as everyone wondering about how grades will be evaluated. I to am concerned. As a few people said already. Mark has made it sound pretty clear that posting comments on the weblog will be a big part of the grade. I think if you participait enough, you'll be fine. I think it's time for me to quit playing on my new fooseball table and start particiipating more.
anyone else with a fooseball table? My roomies and I are awaiting competition.
Posted by: Kent Blanchard | Jan 24, 2005 8:59:34 PM
I am finding this course a lot different then most, but I don't think that that is completely a bad thing. I like using the weblogs, I think it is a new way of getting participation marks, and it helps to gain experience using the web. I guess the only concern I have is what to expect on the CRITS. Its hard for me to organize the information we learn both in class and on the internet. I think it will take a bit of an adjustment because I'm not used to a class as unstructured as this one.
Posted by: Amy MacNeill | Jan 24, 2005 8:59:35 PM
I agree with almost everything everyone has said on here about the CRIT's and the structure of the course. I think after we all get one of the CRIT's behind us we'll feel a bit better about the rest of the course and how it will unfold. Also, seeing as there are people in the class that have a greater knowledge of computers, it makes it harder for the people who don't to follow whats going on. I think this might be causing some of the concern about the CRIT's. We are responsible for the things we talk about in class, but are we responsible for anything when we get off topic or just go in a different direction to something that may not be related to the topic at hand?
Posted by: Grace | Jan 24, 2005 10:55:48 PM
I agree with what everyone has said about this being a completely new form of learning. Personally, as of yet, I don't really like it. Although I do like the weblog and reading everyone's points of view, I hate not knowing more of what we're going to be tested on. I'm not the most computer literate person and find that although I do attend class and listen I can get lost in the technical language, trying to remember and think of what it means and therefore lose the meaning of the lecture. I agree with Tracy that examples of past CRITS will help, me feel more comfortable with what aspects of the course should I try harder to understand and which I should enjoy learning about. Becuase I find myself feeling as though I have to know everything and that overwhelms me.
Posted by: Christina Koughan | Jan 24, 2005 11:50:00 PM
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