Last class

I had my last face to face class with my blogging group today. It was a great class and we covered a huge range of topics from the native people and languages of the Canary islands to the location of the 20 official casts of Rodin’s thinkers (one was recently on show in the main shopping street in Cádiz).

In the last half an hour of the class we got talking about the course and how we felt about it.  We discussed some of the questions that were suggested to me in the comments to my last post, and we spent quite a long time on this one question in particular :

Did you find the emails useful? If yes, in what way?

To recap, over the last three months we have been using email as a way of extending our classes beyond the four walls of the classroom.  After every lesson, one of the students writes a summary of the class and emails it to everybody else, regardless of whether they actually attended the lesson or not. Likewise, I email a list of possible extension tasks, which have been typically a variety of writing tasks, of sharing and commenting on photos and online clips, texts and images.  I responded to all the tasks by email, with comments and corrections which were sent to the whole group. Often students would email me back with redrafts or queries and requests for future lessons. Over the three months we have racked up almost 300 emails (290 to date).

They all agreed that the emails had given them a strong sense of community. One even said that it was like inviting her classmates into her home! Another commented on how the emails make her think in English at home, amost like having an extra class. Another student appreciated the immediacy of feedback and corrections by email as compared to on paper, and that she felt she really learnt a lot, not only from her own corrections, but also from those of her classmates. She shyly produced a wad of notes, where she had collected her homework tasks and those of her classmates, along with my comments and corrections, all well-thumbed and highlighted.

There were some joking remarks about the workload and I asked them whether they’d ever felt frustrated by seeing other class members writing enthusiastically and prolifically and feeling that maybe they didn’t have the time to do the same.  I told them that I’d felt that way sometimes on an online course I’d attended recently. It was stimulating and creative and there was a great sense of community, but there was also a great sense of guilt and frustration when I didn’t have the time, or the energy, to participate at the same rate as some of the others.  They all shook their heads. They said they’d felt no pressure to write and one student talked about  “contagious enthusiasm”  and being motivated to write by reading the other students’ messages. One of the students said, very simply, “I’ll miss it.”

And so will I! But the experiment continues :-).

The next step is to take the class onto the blog.  We will no longer be meeting face to face, but I will be posting a task to our class blog every Monday morning, and, fingers crossed, the students will keep posting too.  But that, as they say, is another blog post …

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2 Responses to Last class

  1. lclandfield says:

    HI Ceri

    Sounds like this was a success! I’ve been following this experiment from a distance. You mention that you will take the class onto the blog. I wish you all the best with this, but I’ve found that once a course with an e-dimension finishes, even though everyone has the best of intentions, it often doesn’t continue in a forum (blog, wiki, discussion group). At least that was my experience. I learned later that the participants were indeed sad about finishing something, but needed a closure or “mourning” stage. One thing that worked really well on a course I took (and then copied the idea for my own courses) was Parting Gifts – a space on the web (e.g. a wallwisher) where everyone could post a little gift: a recipe from home, a photo, a funny video etc. Whatever. It made for a nice final e-farewell card!
    Anyway, all the best with the future experiments!

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Hi Lindsay!
      Nice to see you here 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
      I suspect that what you say will happen with this class too. We’ve still got a round of emails to go before we close the course fully, so those who want closure can take their bow then. But as I’m using/have been using this course as a personal training ground for learning about all things 2.0, I’m going to try and keep it going, for a month or so at least. A couple of the students have expressed an interest in a kinda of blended approach. We’ll see what happens. I’m quite prepared for failure and I won’t be too disappointed if it all fizzles out ;). At least it’s given me the chance to get my hands on an IWB for the first time, and play around with vokis, and fotobabble and other web 2.0 tools that I hadn’t had a chance to try out on a class before.
      The Parting Gifts idea is lovely by the way. I was at the receiving end at The Consultants E recently and I’ve given my students a couple of parting gifts today – one on real paper (an O’Henry short story I adapted) and one by email. I’m guessing that for most of the students that’ll be goodbye 🙂

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