Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Learning from the Best? (Part 2)
I also stored all sorts of links on Moodle. Things related to allusions in our readings. Video of writers we were studying. Stuff I mentioned in class. Articles from the New York Times and other periodicals. MP3 or video files of poets reading (my students liked to watch Billy Collins reading his poem "The Lanyard": Link). And on and on and on. It was just stunning, really. In one story (I'm too lazy to go look it up right now) Hemingway mentions a specific moment in a specific boxing match with Jack Johnson. It's on YouTube. A link posted on Moodle! Smugly, I would also post links to my book reviews from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (See? The teacher has homework, too!)
I'd store examples of student essays on Moodle, suggestions for this and that, pictures of things we'd done in class ...
In my classroom in the twilight of my career I had access to things unthinkable at its dawn. Internet. A digital projector. Who needs a blackboard anymore? Chalk? An overhead projector (my favorite tool earlier on)?
I also used email to keep in touch with students. Somebody miss an assignment? ZAP! goes an email to Somebody. Students routinely emailed me, too, with questions about this and that. Oddly, I at first found it annoying ... then liberating. When the question seemed relevant to the entire class, I'd forward it to all of them. I would also routinely send them links to things I'd read or seen or heard--especially from NPR's Writer's Almanac--birthdays of our authors, publication anniversaries, etc.
Students would submit their papers to me electronically, and I would use Word's "Review" feature to edit and comment on them, then zap them back for revision. Later, when I had to write college recommendations for students, I could look at the digital file of essays I kept on each one for a refresher about their strengths and weaknesses as writers. Later, they would send to me drafts of their college application essays for my thoughts.
But this--Moodle, email, electronic grading of essays--was about the extent of my online teaching. I, the human being, the teacher, was ever a factor. I did not make the next step: working with students I never saw, students living elsewhere, students who never met me, never met with other students.
And that is what I want to write about tomorrow