May 22 2013
eCoaching Tip 109 Focusing Learning with Course Wraps in the Summer
How do you make the most of the short time you have in summer courses? One useful practice is to always keep your eye on the learning goals. This is one of the practices mentioned in Tip 108 — “Affirm core concepts at every opportunity.” A good companion learning practice is to have students “doing” activities that engage them in the core concepts as much as possible. Faculty often ask; “What can I do to get students engaged with the content?” The best strategies for engagement always involve students actively making decisions, thinking through problems, creating or writing media content, researching, evaluating, sharing, working, and giving feedback to other students.
As you know, the weeks of summer courses go by amazingly fast. It is never too early to plan the last events of your course.
This tip suggests three ways of wrapping up summer courses. If it makes sense for you, select one of these “course wrap” ideas and then prepare your students over the next two or three weeks for one of these quick and easy wrap activities that can help identifyand affirmcore concepts and learning goals and give you feedbackon your course design at the same time.
- Create a “Course Wrap” forum and ask students to post what their favorite reading, activity, or resource from the course and to describe why they felt it was of value.
- Collect summary statements of core principles and insights from learners, i.e., what they will take forward with them.
- Ask students to share one or more of their next, most important steps, questions, or actions from the course content and to post it in their journal.
Share what works for you if you can. Thanks! Judith
Note 1 — Example of a Philosophy of Teaching Statement
As you may recall, one of our fall 2012 webinars, led by Brian Sesack, described the practice of creating teaching portfolios. Since then, I have been on alert for examples of Philosophy of Teaching Statements. Gabe Tipper, an adjunct lecturer on the history of design in Ohio State University’s Design department has posted his teaching philosophy statement as an open letter to his students on his blog. You can check it out at http://gabetippery.com/54504/442109/teaching/philosophy-of-teaching.
Note 2 — Engaging Students with Blogs and Group Design Projects
A teaching and learning blog at OSU posted a summaryof Gabe’s research on engaging students in his large design class (about 60 students F2F) in a ‘history-type’ course. Consistent with the practice of having students “doing and creating” with the content, his students keep a weekly blog where they also submit all of their individual assignments. The weekly postings are varied, alternating between reflections on readings, reflections on class activities, such as lectures, discussions, activities, films watched, journals, and small assignments. For example, each week he assigns a design related activity such as “seeking out and photographing designed objects that appear to have an anthropometric face.” The following week students would read a selected number of their peers’ blogs and write reviews of the posts that would highlight items the student found interesting or innovative. Students would also work on group design projects that he evaluated on “good visual presentation and well researched and useful information on the chosen topics.”
- What I personally liked most in his philosophy of teaching statement was his description of any design process as a “problem-solving activity with ‘appropriateness’ as the ultimate gauge of success – as every solution must be unique to its problem.” This is a great description of the importance and role of the design process.
Tippery, Gabriel. “Learning to Be in the Digital Era: A Holistic Learning Framework for Design Education.” MA Thesis: 53-57. The Ohio State University, 2012. OhioLINK ETD Center. Web. 02 May, 2013. Retrieved from http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=osu1343327316.
More on Course Wrap Strategies from Tip 99
Here are three ideas for wrapping up the last week that can help your students reflect and clarify what they have learned during the often frenetic time of a summer course.
Each of these wrapping strategies is easy to implement in the last few days of a course.
- Create a “Wrapping Up” forum and ask students to post what their favorite reading, activity or resource was from the course and to share what made it so for them individually.
As you prepare this forum request, imagine that you are talking with your students in an informal encounter and just ask them to share what reading, activity, or resource worked best for them and that they will remember going forward. This would be a course activity that they would encourage you to keep in the course because it really helped drive home some important insight, or helped them ‘pull it all together.’
For example, it might have been a seminal reading by Peter Senge about the five components of a learning organization and the belief in the power of individuals and organizations to recreate themselves. Or the power of systems thinking. Or the perspective of the leader as designer and visionary.
This “Wrapping Up” forum is really about feedback as to how students are responding to some of the key elements of your course. The learners get a chance to reflect, and reaffirm something that is meaningful to them in a risk-free setting.
- Collect summary statements of core principles and insights from learners.
Recall that one of the best practices from Tip #98 is to “Reaffirm frequently the core concepts, big ideas and the course big picture.”
In the last week of the course you want to hear from your students what core principles or insights they were inspired by and feel confident in having an impact on their future career or life.
How is one to do this? Here are some possibilities that you can use with tools such as blogs, live classroom events or even a twitter line. If you have not used these kinds of tools already, you may want to use the tried and true discussion forum.
- Set up a forum for the purpose of creating a summary set of core ideas — as applied to their own future courses and lives. As suggested in the best practices of giving students choices in what they do, this forum can serve as a class summary, unique to this particular group of learners.
- Create a course blog or forum for the final week that captures the students’ thoughts and insights. Then students can keep it as a final wrap of the course and as a reminder of the network of students they have met.
- Return to your course framework, or mind map and ask your learners to annotate the core concepts with personally noted patterns, relationships and questions extending the core concepts.
- Ask students to share their next most important step or question in this content area.
This request is again an informal, but important question, that can be set up in a forum or a blog, somewhat as a course narrative.
Remember the course framework and course mind map that provides structural underpinnings for all the course principles and insights? Learning is about what we want to know “next” in using these principles and insights. A class narrative can encourage learners to reaffirm how ideas link together and build on previous experiences, courses or what is coming next for them.
The goal of a course wrapping experience is to bring intellectual and social closure to a particular course experience. It is a way to affirm, “This is what I learned; this is what it means to me, and this is my continuing curiosity about the content.”
It is just an added benefit to you that it can provide so much feedback to your course design and your teaching.
Boettcher, J. (2006, 2012) Tip 30 Course Wrapping Reminders.Retrieved May 22, 2013 from http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/tips/tip30.html
Boettcher, J. (2012) Tip 98 Five Best Practice for Summer Teaching and Learning. In the SLPA Faculty Webinar site and at http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/tips/tip98.html
Smith, M. K. (2001) Peter Senge and the learning organization. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education.Retrieved May 27, 2013 from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/senge.htm
Note: These E-coaching tips were initially developed for faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2016 in the second edition of the book, The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached judith followed by designingforlearning.org.
Copyright by Judith V. Boettcher