My last post included a link to a document I created for course I am taking on curriculum through Queen’s University. This post is a more reflective post about the process and my intent.
First of all, this is the first online credit course I have taken in too many years to count (though I have been an enthusiastic MOOC participant!) so that alone has created some new experiences: What is expected? Is this right? Is this enough? Am I overthinking? Underthinking? In short, I have all the neuroses of a student in a first semester course only with years of being on the other side of the grade column hinting faintly at the irony of it all.
Secondly, the best laid plans… my intent for the assignment for module 1 was a working document, dynamic and shifting as my understanding shifts and grows. In theory this is great; in practice, only by logging in on Office 365 could others see it– and since the purpose of this document is to share my learning, this might not work for everyone. In the end, I included the dynamic link, and also saved and uploaded a rather static PDF that can be read more traditionally.
This is a departure from my desire to see learning as ongoing and expanding, so I may have to rethink some things. However, on the upside, it’s forcing me to reconsider how I see assessment in terms of my own teaching. I’ve been advocating for choice of medium and portfolios and making learning visible, but have shied away because of pushback from students who find it stressful to share. Seeing how this course is unfolding and being able to demonstrate my own understanding on an ongoing basis reinforces to me that this type of learning is beneficial on many levels. There is one course in particular this fall that I believe lends itself well to this approach, and with some scaffolding for students that I can build in, I feel more inclined to weave elements of a portfolio assessment into my own teaching.
Thirdly–and this is in no way related to the assignment, the course, or teaching in general–I’ve discovered that my work is enhanced when I take time to reflect between readings and between drafts, and when I take breaks from the page. Swimming in particular gives me 45 minutes a day to consider what I’ve been learning and make connections in my own mind. When I am writing more formally, I take violin breaks regularly, benefiting both my writing and my violin playing. When I’m playing, I can’t think of anything else, and somehow when I return to my work even after five minutes, I see it with fresh eyes.
And lastly, this course has encouraged me to return to blogging more frequently, not just this blog, but my personal one as well. IT reminds me that blogging is reflective and restorative for me; also that I let it go too easily when I get busy (September – May), so need to build in time to slow down and include it again.