Reflections on Unit 1: Projects, Collaboration, and Community

Image: Title Slide for Giving Credit Where Credit is Due Slide Presentation

Link to presentation slides Giving Credit Wher Credit is Due for Global Collaboration and Community Project

Note: This post is an extended reflection from the EdTech Team’s Teacher Leader Certification Program. I am participating in the initial cohort.

Looking back on the opening two weeks of the course, I find myself increasingly returning to the perspective of a student. Of course, I am a perpetual student, in truth.

Since this is a new class and it is entirely online, so there is always an adjustment period. This opening two weeks essentially was just that.

There were a lot of adjustments, from the urgent desire to figure out how to manage the deluge of emails that began from the activity in the Google Group or notifications from the Google+ Community that threatened to swamp every other message in my Inbox. I can only imagine what someone unfamiliar with some of the tools.

I have to admit that I struggled to keep track of all the work that as supposed to be completed and even misunderstood some directions. I still can’t help feeling like I might have forgotten something.

As for the project, after some initial uncertainty about what exactly I was supposed to deliver, whether or not I needed to work with others, and how global or collaborative things needed to be, I just got to it. I reached out to someone familiar and someone not so familiar.

At first, we had to gain some clarity between ourselves over the scope of the project, agreeing that the directions were really asking for a single lesson with multiple supportive elements.

I am not entirely sure that what my team accomplished ticks all boxes, although I am not sure what all the boxes would be anyway. Still, I know it is good work, especially for an initial effort.

flickr photo by mikeyb.0101
https://flickr.com/photos/mikeyb0101/24070265943
shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

We collaborated, divided labor, and all pulled in the same direction. It did require someone to kind of take the lead and drop the needle, but once that happened we were in a groove. The distance never became a factor. We were able to work asynchronously without any real problems.

More than anything, it was an interesting problem to tackle. Also, the uncertainty was not all bad, in retrospect. It forced some decisiveness and created a sense of urgency, as well. Each member of our trio jumped right into a task and was able to develop something based on the initial document.

It has been a good reminder of what it is like from a student’s perspective.

All that being said, I think the spectre of the graduate credits and grades kind of taints things a bit for me. I am all for exploring, taking risks, and experimenting. However, again like a student, the grade remains lurking in the background. Alright, maybe that is not quite like a student. It is much more in the foreground for many of them.

On a fundamental level. I don’t care much for grades. I often remark that I spent more than 10 years trying to make grades irrelevant in my classroom. However, I certainly need to do well in order to meet requirements of my employer for reimbursement and credentialing. While there were some general examples, I was not completely clear as to what all this project was supposed to look like upon completion.

It was another reminder of how much trust can play a role in learning. Since this is the first real work to be submitted for a newly developed class, there is a lot of ambiguity. This is completely understandable but it causes the specter of grades to loom much larger than it otherwise might.

I am fairly sure this will prove less and less of a concern. Still, another reminder of how much work we may need to do to ensure the climate and culture we desire with our students.

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