Friday, August 24, 2007

Champing at the bit

The official start date for classes is Monday, the 27th, but one class has some lessons posted and I'm already at work. Well, my computer is at took over an hour to install Adobe's CS3 Web Standard, and now I'm playing around while hoping my textbook arrives soon so I can really get started.

While I've got a minute to reflect, before the deluge of teaching and learning and living all hits on Monday, I'm trying not to feel frustration that two out of two courses are application specific. I guess I've gotten so accustomed to using 2.whatever and FOSS applications that I'm startled by professors insisting on grad students purchasing expensive mass-market software. At least I don't have to purchase MS Office 2007 (but that's only because the text has a limited trial version included).

The degree I am seeking is in Instructional Design with an emphasis in Education. Is it realistic, in today's tightly-budgeted schools, for teachers to expect to teach web design using high-end software when NVU would serve the same purpose? Is it essential that my students know the specific application, or should they learn the principles which underlie the application?

I'm not advocating a return to DOS, don't get me wrong. I'm just wondering ... am I as a student being asked to learn what my teachers are familiar with? Do I make that same mistake decision with my own students as a teacher? Am I teaching from my world rather than to their world?

Then, too, I was startled that both courses will require me to keep a physical notebook and mail it to the professors at the end of the semester. My first reaction was, "What?!?!?! In this era of instant communication, twittering, blogs, wikis, podcasts, you want me to keep a notebook?"

I'm still trying to puzzle my way through this notebook requirement, as I create a wiki for my students to use as their major class resource. They will work collaboratively, true, but they will also have responsibilities to discuss what they are working on, I can track who has contributed what, and we will have an organic work which we can share with others. They will have a resource which they can access again and again as they move on in their education, and continue to contribute to it for the benefit of other students who will follow them. I guess the oddest part for me is that I will spend time creating a resource for myself which I will then send off, perhaps never to be seen again. It just feels odd, that's all.

Have I been a teacher too long, and forgotten how to be a student?


SherryC said...

We ARE supposed to be teaching our students for the world they will live in. I am saddened that your grad program doesn't understand that. You, however, have to jump through whatever hoops are placed in front of you to get your Master's Degree. You can't fret over WHY they do things the way they do or it will make you crazy. At the end of your program, there may be an opportunity for you to make suggestions for improvement.

Good luck! You are going to be AWESOME!

Carolyn Foote said...

I have an idea--

perhaps compile your "notebook" on your wiki. Print it out and mail it in, but also provide the professor with the link so they can get its use online. Better yet, set this up now, and send them a prototype--perhaps the professor would agree with you that a wiki is a viable option?

Then they can, also, learn from you?

I agree with you about learning high end software--schools can't make mass purchases like that, and it is the principles involved that are important.

It's good to be familiar with the choices in case you end up at a campus that CAN afford the software, but it's also good to be familiar with a range of choices.

Unfortunately, I think one of the lessons of this is that, just as we k12 teachers need to see what is going on in colleges, so they need to visit our campuses more and find out what we are really doing.

Might be a great opportunity to invite your professor over for a visit, or is this distance learning?

Mrs. B said...

SherryC, thank you for your support. You're right about not fretting over things, although I do think your "make you crazy" should read "make you crazier"!

Let's just hope I make it to the other side of this semester with a little sanity still intact.

Mrs. B said...

Carolyn, compiling the "notebook" on a wiki is a wonderful idea! I think I'll head over to and get started on it right now.

This is distance learning, which makes the use of web tools that much more valuable, imho. I'm hoping to learn and share throughout the courses, and perhaps this is the place to start.