Monday, July 18, 2011

BYUI Winding Down and Other Navel-Gazing

Here we are in the concluding week of my first foray into teaching an online course. Most of my students will pass with As and Bs. A few are going to fail.

Me? I give myself a C plus.

Average work, plus just a little bit better. I know there are things I can do to improve, and I also know that I kind of petered out these past few weeks as they worked on their group projects. Still, I have to wonder if that’s a benefit, given that it’s less for them to have to read and respond to. And I can cheerlead all I want, but if that’s the best I can do to encourage them to get their group projects done on time, perhaps I’m kind of a bunghole teacher. So I’m expecting fair-to-middling marks on the class evaluations with an eye on learning from my mistakes for next semester.

What do students want out of a class like this? The grade? To learn to write better? The grade is pretty easy on me, the teacher. But to learn to write better. Wow. That’s a lot harder to achieve. I’m slowly walking away from the premise that you can’t teach writing – because I’ve seen some of my Uncharted cohorts improve at their writing as they go along. With writing, it’s quantity that begets quality – back to the old Bradbury Postulation, of course.

And how, like Ma and Pa Kettle in this video clip, can I hope to teach better writing? Or is that what I’m supposed to teach at all? Writing – while it’s easy to tell good from bad – is a lot more subjective than the math these folks are trying to do. Does it really matter the journey in writing if we end up at the same destination? Or even some mirrored version of that destination?

I’ll leave that to the philosophers.

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