Tony, I greatly enjoyed the commercial break and your old school Coke ditty:)
These two chapters made me ruminate on how we engage our peer writing consultants in training at the Writing Center (WC) and how we might re-envision how we engage in aspects of online training with our peer consultants. I love Freire’s writings, and I fully use his student centered approach both as a composition and literature instructor, but I think I can try to embody more of Freire’s problem posing with our peer consultants in a WC context.
I particularly like what Tony said about focusing on how we present ideas over presenting course content. That notion is resonating with me as I type this. One of the challenges the WC faces in some of the online training is getting that rich and deep level of discussion from our consultants. In chapter four, Warnock reminisces about his professor from grad school, and he describes how the professor used the Socratic method building out from an easy to more complex scaffold: “He [Timothy Martin] would warm us up with easy questions, building our confidence and creating classroom energy before delving into more difficulty issues that were the objective of that class lesson”(31). This idea of building and scaffolding the critical thinking flow with students is compelling in an online space. I could see the Writing Center coaches doing a similar thing online, essentially using Tony’s suggestion from the video: we pose a simple question on a google doc about a concept and see where it goes on the document. Then we look for interesting patterns in their comments, and based on those patterns, we next offer up a theory reading that has been shortened or modified in some way, and our peer consultants can then go off and think about the topic, ruminate and do more discussion based upon the original post and the WC theory reading. I think this would build confidence with our peer consultants in the work they do, as they would get more time to think and chew on concepts and ideas. I know in the WC we have a big learning curve, and confidence can be an issue for this reason; consequently, scaffolding discussions online in this way would potentially help to build their confidence and really let them work with a concept/ idea. I see us doing the application aspect that Tony suggests later on after some rich discussion. They can try that concept for several weeks in their feedback sessions, and then post or modify that original google doc with their findings, reflections, experiences.
I am also struck by his idea that smaller groups might work better to curb unwieldy chat in a synchronous chat session (33). But I wonder if that idea maybe also applies to discussion board posts, asynchronous discussions, or google docs too. For example, when in a f2f class, I always liked to do no more than 3 people in a group, so everyone would contribute and talk. I wonder if smaller cohorts for the online discussions would change dynamics and sort of force everyone to contribute. I am not sure how much that complicates managing students, but I am intrigued by the possibility.
I am also thinking that I can grow in how I interact with online training of our peer consultants by creating some room for synchronous discussions. As far as the discussion in chapter five, the syllabus in an online class, I imagine we can actually create a syllabus for our peer consultants training. Perhaps having that contract and list of due dates will help them see the overall objectives of the semester’s training. We do that planting the objectives and the due dates of reflections verbally and on our website section for our consultants, but a syllabus or a modified type of syllabus might be a good possibility for the future.