El Anatsui, Old Man’s Cloth, 2003
I started last semester having my students blog in my Art 157 (Art Orientation) class. This came out of the discussion forums I had them doing previously that had met with limited success and participation. Ok. Let me pause. You NEVER get 100% participation. I found that the blog worked a little better, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I had them responding to prompts, posting images, and discussion with each other, but I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over.
During Flex week, I had a discussion with Lisa Lane about discussion forums, blogs, grading, etc. I was interested in her ideas about leaving the forum/blog open for the students to go back, and continue discussions from previous weeks. I had set up the blogs in my classes as prompt-based, but after talking to Lisa about how she allows students to lead, I thought a lot about what I wanted from this assignment, and what I thought would benefit the students. On the first day of class, after handing out the assignment, I asked them what they would want from this assignment. The consensus was that they wanted it to be prompt-free.
I have found that allowing them to choose what they are interested from the week’s material has let to better participation, and more student learning. Also my perception is that the students are more engaged in the learning as a whole, and are doing research on the material that interests them, especially in the Nonwestern Art class. I finally feel like the online assignment is doing what I wanted for the students. Now if I could get the in-class group work there…