Headphones in the classroom

Royan Lee says

I invite my middle schoolers to bring their headphones to class. It’s not just because the year is 2012, or because stringy white ear buds are as ubiquitous as skinny jeans that sag beneath boxers. I want them to use their music and headphones for at least a few reasons…

These include finding individual and paired solitude as needed. A range of commenters echo similar practices and reasoning for why students can use headphones and listen to music

In full

SMOOC half way point

By Lisa, on January 2nd, 2012

I am going over the mid-year surveys from our Pedagogy First! SMOOC (Small-to-medium open online class), and looking for patterns. It was a Google spreadsheet survey, so the summary isn’t very user-friendly, but here it is because it has pretty pie charts [pdf]. 42 people filled it out.

An overview of what’s up:

93% believe the class so far has been a positive learning experience. This is very high!

In terms of objectives, 62% are taking the class to improve teaching skills, and 21% to increase their knowledge of online tools for teaching.

In terms of goals, 62% intend to earn a POT online teaching certificate, while 24% are following along but intend to post only occasionally.

About the certificate, 38% are earning it to fulfill their own expectations, and 24% to advance their employment options. This is despite the fact that the certificate is an informal badge, issued by the volunteer Program for Online Teaching faculty, not an accredited institution of any kind. 36% are not going for the certificate.

So far, 29% have fulfilled the entire syllabus, and 17% plan to make up missed work.

31% started off well but personal or professional conflicts meant they stopped participating. This is of the 42 answering the survey, but the original number of participants was about 90, so most people have dropped. This was expected given the attrition in other MOOCs.

In terms of community, about a fifth feel strongly connected, and a fifth feel only partly connected. More interestingly, 38% say they feel only partly connected and that’s fine – we have a number of independent learners.

The sticky post we use for each week at the top of the blog is helpful to 76% of those surveyed. 88% felt the weekly email was helpful. So it may be that doing both is a good idea.

57% participated to some extent in the Facebook group, but 36% didn’t by choice. I know that several participants are leery of Facebook because of their horrid privacy policies, but given the 38% that don’t want more community connections, 57% is pretty high!

Although 48% are happy with the colleague connections, 24% want more emphasis on commenting on each other’s blogs. This is interesting, since everyone has been encouraged to do this, and doing so is up to the participants. 21% want a Google group or more formal place for discussion (only 3 people want to use Facebook for this). If we set something up, of course, the risk is fewer blog comments, so….

Mentors have been very or somewhat helpful to 53% of participants, but 21% didn’t get help and didn’t ask for it, and 26% didn’t know who their mentor was. We might want to put out a list so that mentors feel more responsible and participants know who to contact. We relied on mentors to contact their 4 or 5 mentees, but there may have been a communication gap.

45% see online teaching as a mode of delivery, which is probably the most basic definition. 24% see it as a separate discipline. Others didn’t choose either, or believed they were combined. Only 14% saw it as a subset of teaching in general.

74% claim to have gained confidence in selecting tools for online teaching. This is excellent.

81% feel ready to build a class around their own pedagogy instead of being led solely by the technologies they’re using. Also excellent!

Concerning class design, 60% like it the way it is, with assigned readings/viewings, required posts, and participants blogging in their own space. Comments indicate participants want more about designing discussion, building community, and creating assessments, with an emphasis on reflection. 12% (five participants) wanted less work overall.

Participants have enjoyed blogging, reading the Ko and Rossen textbook, trying lots of tools, and interacting with a community. Concerns mostly revolved around participants not having the time they hoped they’d have to participate more fully, and some felt there was just too much, especially too many tools to try. Since one of the things they most enjoyed was trying the tools, and one of the biggest concerns was too many tools, these may cancel each other out.

Seven participants (17%) indicated they would have liked less tool exploration and more emphasis on the reading in the first semester. Although this isn’t very many articulating this, I saw evidence that this was a problem in other ways, including frustration with tools in the first several weeks. This was exacerbated by people needing help and time setting up their own blog. We may need to provide more time for that in the first few weeks.