Google Analytics

fredag 9 december 2011

On how to raise the quality of the content on this blog!

Ok, so, I just wrote that it was great to hear your suggestions for what could have been better in the course. Here's another take on the very same issue (the quality of content on this blog).

So some of you (again) though the average quality of stuff on this (your!) blog has been too low. What could we (both you and me) do about it? I guess I could in more detail specify the "rules" for posting stuff on the blog, e.g. "please don't post links to random stuff on the Internet here".

I'd also like to point out that I and Pernilla can still and at our discretion interpret and decide ("retroactively") if individual contributions do live up the "rules" that were specified in this blog post (i.e. "The important criteria is that your contribution should add value. "I agree", "me too" or "the lecture was great" does not add value"). Perhaps "I found this on the Internet and hope you all like it" posted one day before the deadline for fulfilling the online discussion examination requirements won't qualify as "adding value"? (DO NOTE: you still have all of today to give it your best shot if you suddenly hesitate about the quality of some of your earlier contributions :-).

So, that is one thing we could have done differently. What could you have done differently?

1) Complain/raise the issue at the gripe session/course evaluation (which you did). What else?

2) Make sure that you personally don't contribute to the behavior you condone in others, i.e. make sure that each of your contributions to the blog in your own opinion are of high quality. That's shouldn't be very hard to do, and your position to complain about low quality of blog posts is definitely undermined if you think your own contributions were not of high quality. What else could you have done?

3) Well, why wait for the (late) opportunity to raise the issue when the course is about to wind down. Why not post something about it here, on this blog (for example one week or one month ago)?

So, you might think that the quality of a course is 100% equal to what the teachers "hand over to you" (or force you to do in the course). Wrong. The quality of the course is also (but of course not exclusively) a matter of what you, individually and as a group, put into it. If you as a student "perk up" and put some effort into finding angles or examples from your own experiences that you share at a seminar, that seminar will be all the better for it for everyone. If you as a student pose a good question, a lecture can become all the better for it for everyone. If you as a student listen to a lecture while simultaneously "playing with" or doing "really important work" on your laptop or your smartphone, the lecture will be slightly worse off (for everybody) because of it. Thinking that the lecture or seminar wasn't about the things you would have wanted them to be about might be justified, but a surly "I won't-contribute" attitude for sure detracts from the quality of the activity in question here-and-now.

So, is the onus on me as a teacher to become a "better entertainer" and find ways to lure your attention back from your screens and into the lecture hall? To some extent yes. Or is the onus on you to make the best of your time, your opportunities and your education and to actively contribute to the quality of it? To some extent yes. And, in the age of social media, why shouldn't courses and university education change from a lean-back (e.g. TV or "give me all you got") to a lean-forward (e.g. Internet) activity? The opportunities have at least never been better than they are now. Will you accept that challenge and make the best of it (for example during the courses you will study during the spring semester)? Or will you give them only a minimum of your attention and spend most of that precious resource elsewhere? (Not that it matters to me, I don't have any courses with you this spring - with the possible exception of those few who will write a bachelor's thesis this coming spring :-)

One more example: When we have had guest lectures, the quality of lectures would for sure increase if every single person in the audience had prepared a question in advance (perhaps by doing 10 minutes of "Internet research" about the lecturer or the topic in advance or by just sitting down for 10 minutes to reflect on the topic of the lecture). I certainly asked you to do it each week as part of the invitation to the guest lecture. NOTE: You still have the chance to do it for today's guest lecture - and I believe David has only planned to talk for 45 minutes and to leave the rest of the time open for questions...

Someone suggested I should have asked for you to provide questions for guest lecturers in writing, adding it to the seminar assignment in much the same way you were asked (forced) to provide a question for the seminar each week. Perhaps I should have done that. Or perhaps not. Perhaps that's for you to discover...? Should I as a teacher be "forced" to provide detailed instructions about everything I would like you to do, and to make it part of the examination for the course (like posting to this blog)?

So, my concluding question is: how do we (all of us, together) make students go from being passive "consumers" of education to also become contributors or even co-creators (in this and other courses)? Thoughtful answers in the form of comments to this and the previous blog post will definitely be rewarded! I'll even extend the deadline for this specific challenge until Sunday for latecomers, straggler and those few who haven't even accepted the invitation to become contributors to this blog (please make sure I can identify you - sign your comment)!

And to top it off, here's a well-know quote from John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech in 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country".

2 kommentarer:

  1. Although I strongly agree with you opinion on student attitudes in the educational system, isn't it the case that learning styles differ per person and that therefore the participation style isn't necessarily better than the consuming style?

  2. No.

    Learning styles is not the same thing as being active or passive. The latter has more to do with motivation and attitude, rather than if you are person who triggers on visual, kinesthetic or aural content.

    And, all evidence shows that active participation has positive effects on learning outcomes.