Greetings! Here are my thoughts for this week:
This week I decided to go back and read Warnock’s introduction, and his emphasis on how an OWcourse can actually put the focus on more intensive writing while revealing the intricacies of the rhetorical situation, “students are writing to you and to each other in virtually all of their course communications, expanding ideas of audience, purpose, and context each time they contribute to a message board, create a blog entry, or engage in an email-based peer review” (xi). So for this week, I want to focus on thinking about how the OWcourse may strengthen collaborative work and the ways in which I present and scaffold an end-of-semester group project. Although, I think Janette’s point about the potential drawbacks (less autonomy for students who want an “anytime, anyplace” set up for their online classes) of extended group projects, I have been considering the possibilities of migrating a group project from an f2f course to an OWcourse
In my ENG 100 and HSE courses, much of the semester is devoted to different modes of rhetorical analysis (though I have become increasingly less jargon-heavy in my prompts and scaffolding). We start with the analysis of one text, next we move on to the lens assignment, then we incorporate research, and end the semester with the analysis of a visual artifact. The final unit is focused around ideas/ questions about gender identity, After analyzing 3-5 written arguments, we move into an analysis of a documentary called Miss Representation- I have students work in small groups for multiple class meetings- identifying rhetorical strategies the filmmakers use (editing, music, shot type, sequence, structure) and analyzing why they use them. This culminates in a group project where each group is assigned specific strategies to identify and analyze how these strategies work and why they’re used. Students can use PP, Google Slides or any other platform to develop a multimedia presentation for the class.
Some thoughts on why an OWcourse would benefit and might even strengthen this project
The visual aspect won’t get lost – here I’m thinking I would provide a model of analysis using clips from the film with recorded commentary that students could access when needed then after being set up in groups, students could asynchronously practice their own analysis of whichever strategies they feel compelled to pay attention to, recording their findings on a Google doc, including screenshots, or links to short clips of the documentary to give examples.
Group roles: One thing I need to strengthen in my f2f classes in the context of group work is careful attention to who does what. Warnock acknowledges the challenges of staying on task, and advocates for the assignment of group roles-“leader, meeting organizer, secretary, head researcher, chief editor” (149). I think an online space could end up making these roles more concrete and effective since many students might appreciate the dynamics of more clearly defined roles that need to be clearly laid out for the online context.
One idea that I heard on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast that seemed to lend itself well to an online class while addressing many of the potential issues in Warnock’s section on Team Projects was the idea of the Scrum Board. Rebecca Pope Ruark, author of Agile Faculty, promotes the idea of using a Scrum Board to help students work collaboratively and track progress. In her explanation, a Scrum Board has three separate columns-To Do, In Progress, and Completed. Once groups are underway, they could track their progress on a virtual Scum Board-this could be a Google doc or some other virtual space -I’m open to suggestions! This would be specific to each group- with smaller sections for the responsibilities of each individual group member and the corresponding tasks. I imagine this would be a good space for groups to monitor their progress and I could track who is assigned which task and how each group member is contributing.
Finally, each group could come together to craft their final presentations- they may need to do a few synchronous planning sessions to develop the presentation, but they could break it up into individual components that each member could work on individually and then bring back to the group. One question I have is for the presentation itself- would we have synchronous sessions where the groups could present “live” or would we have a discussion space where students could view the presentations on their own time? I would have to work this out.
Feedback: This is another area where I feel like the possibilities of technology would benefit strong feedback. I would record an asynchronous response to their presentations- giving them feedback and assessment- attending to how effectively they worked as a group.Afterwards they could assess their own work both individually and collaboratively in a discussion thread specific to their group (though I’m hoping the Scrum Board will help recursively do much of this work).
I still have lots of questions and concerns about how this will translate/ transition but I am excited by the possibilities.