An Alternative Approach to Teaching
This course has undoubtedly been quite different than anything we have experienced before. I believe I can speak for the majority of the students that we had not, prior to this year, been exposed to this type of learning, and it has struck us somewhat unprepared, in terms of what was in fact expected of us. What was a bit strange from the beginning is that we were to be involved in the making of the syllabus, which we were not at all used to, for the syllabus has always been presented to us during the first lesson of any course. This has somewhat contributed to our confusion in the beginning, and not knowing what to expect from the exam and the course itself.
The site was a bit challenging to navigate at the start, and it did take us a couple of weeks to get used to how it works, but we managed to get the hang of it, and we did not experience a lot of difficulties later on. I would say that, what took the majority of our time while posting assignments was making sure to include the proper formatting of links, writings in bold, and similar. However, I must say that, although we sometimes saw it as a nuisance, there were instructions on everything on the site, so it was essentially only the matter looking them up.
In my opinion, what contributed to this course, was that we were able to work in groups, and divide the assignments in several parts, so that we were all participating, but still not all of us was doing every part. Otherwise, I believe that the amount of assignments each week would have been too overwhelming for one person to handle all on their own. Although, I am aware that there were students who were working individually this whole semester. The tasks themselves were at times overbearing, and sometimes we did wonder what part they played in the topic of the week in question, that is, we failed to see the relevance of some of them. But, they nevertheless succeeded in getting us all engaged and work together as a group to come to a solution and complete the assignments to the best of our abilities. I would only like to suggest that the amount of them be decreased in the future, so that the students could focus on fewer tasks, thus ensuring that the quality of the completed tasks does not suffer.
As regards the forum, it did achieve in getting us all more involved in communicating with each other, and brainstorming the ideas in relation to the topics we have been discussing this semester. Yet, sometimes we felt obligated to write something, anything, even though we might not have felt we had anything useful to offer to our colleagues, and we were posting only because it was expected of us to write a post. For this reason, we sometimes saw the forum as only a hindrance, and just another part of the assignment we had to devote our time to completing. Nonetheless, the forum itself is a good idea to get the students more involved in the course.
Furthermore, the video lessons did provide an insight into what we were to do each week. In my opinion, their length was ideal, as they weren’t too long with a lot of unnecessary information, nor were they too short, lacking in instructions. What contributed to them being effective, was that a lot of what was said in the videos was also written out, so, if someone was unable to watch the video, all the useful information related to the assignments was still there to see in writing. Only, one suggestion would be to keep all the videos available for more than one week, so that one could go back and watch them again if they wished to do so.
When it comes to the topics themselves, they were all quite interesting, as they largely touched upon technology and its use in our everyday lives, which, suffice it to say, is a major part of this day and age. As my generation grew up with technology, sometimes we fail to see its bad parts, and only focus on the advantages, so the lectures on social networks forced us to look more deeply into our virtual lives, with more skepticism, and to also contemplate our decisions, reflect on them, and overall think more critically. Therefore, the topics have proved quite useful and engaging, driving us to discuss them among ourselves as group, even when we had already completed our assignments for the week. Yet, we did not see them as only being in relation with American culture, but more so as the culture of the whole world as it is today. Or, more importantly, the topics succeeded in describing the 21st century as almost entirely revolving around the Internet.
As I have already stated, sometimes the amount of tasks was overwhelming, perhaps more than it needed to be, and we often felt like too much was expected from us. What further made us think so was the number of reading materials presented to us. Of course, we knew that some of it was optional, but still, the mere sight of a dozen articles would strike us as too much to handle. Also, what is worth mentioning is that there is probably only a handful of students who would read all of them, as most would simply pick and choose what best suited them. However, I do understand the need to, as a teacher, present us with multiple options to choose from, whether we go through all of them or not.
Finally, reflecting on my work in this course, as an individual, I have to say that it varied from week to week. Some weeks, my group would work more tightly together, brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another, while other times we would all pick a part of the assignment and work more individually. I must say that sometimes I was not in the mood to complete the tasks, and would simply do it half-heartedly, which would reflect on the quality of my work. Sometimes, that was related to the topic of that week, the amount of exercises we had to do which would only deter me from doing them, or we simply had too many obligations in other subjects at the same time, so I would procrastinate in finishing the assignments for this course. Nevertheless, I can, somewhat confidently, say that I am quite satisfied in the overall achievement of my group in this course. Seeing as we had not come in contact with this way of teaching before, I believe we have managed quite well this semester, as we tried to do our best each week.
This post may be used for research purposes.