Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hybrid class article

Gouge, Catherine. “Conversation at a Crucial Moment: Hybrid Courses and the Future of Writing Programs.” College English 71.4 (2009): 338-62.

This articles is one of those pieces that I can’t believe hadn’t been written already, which of course made me kick myself for not writing it earlier. It is basically a call to pay attention to hybrid classrooms, to start a conversations and research on it, which is what we / I should have done three years ago when we moved to classroom instruction. I suppose we could start with interviews of all classroom instructors. The article is certainly right to call for more research.

I was really surprised to read that all reports of hybrid classrooms seem to be positive, and the doubts mainly have to do with doubts about the economic goals of hybrid classes. The last third of the article even focused on the Texas Tech program, so it became about how hybrid classes might be able to support innovative assessment.

The NDSU experience with hybrid classes would look very different. The success stories would be minimal: I had a strong discussion of White Like Me that probably would not have happened in a f2f class—the students even told me that. A few other instructors have reported getting comfortable with hybrids, but I don’t remember why. I think many of us hope that students will become more technologically literate, but we aren’t convinced that they are. Our big complaint is that students treat a hybrid like a 75 minute a week class; they do little or nothing between classes, despite various threats and incentives.

The article does cite a special issue from Teaching with Technology (8.2) that seems worth looking at, and I am now convinced that I need to read Locke Carter’s collection Market Matters.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some ideas for English

I stumbled up on E. Gordon Gee (prez Ohio State)'s recent call for reforming all of higher education. He articulates what I thought we have been trying to do, but perhaps OSU just isn't as cutting edge as NDSU. He did hit a few particulars that resonated with me, some problems that I have not tackled.

1. He singles out things like the "solar car" competition, involving not only teams from a single U but teams made up of members from more than one university. I've long thought "English needs a "solar car" competition.

2. He says U's should make sure all students have passports; students should study abroad, globalize. Agreed, although nice practical suggestion vis-a-vis passports.

These two items got me thinking: What if The Global Club of English Majors (Garrison Keeler, honorary prez) sponsored something like a "Social Entrepreneur" competition that had as some of its criterias of success:
--number of universities connected.
--number of participants.
--number of continents connected, etc.

I participated in "Congo Week" in October 2008; that seems like a "Social Entrepreneur" model to strive towards. Perhaps "sustainability" would need to be added. Students would need to do this work outside of class; they would need to not only take up a cause, but build a community, probably raise funds, etc., etc.. If "social activism" or "student activism" is obsolete, perhaps its goals can be retrieved through social entrepreneurship. Do I need to invoke McLuhan's "true function of computers": To orchestrate global energies and promote harmony.

As I was reading Gee's piece, an email telling me about "Global Conflicts," an online simulation, came to me. Clearly related, but perhaps another post. http://www.globalconflicts.eu/