Saturday, March 21, 2009

LA reflection Type A: Redoing Virt Camp

When we were first given the syllabus for 665, we had to create a Learning Activity that would be a small part of a larger course in which we would work at using the planning of Understanding By Design. My group spoke right away of what we wanted to do, and after talking with Melissa, came up with some greater clarification and direction that we wanted to proceed. We all decided that for us, Virt Camp was something although meant to be well designed, lacked design. So, we put our head together to create a new improved vision for Virt Camp or an introductory camp like it. What we soon realized, given our understandings of UbD is that this was going to be a challenge.

We are all opinionated members in Type A and all are outspoken in what we feel, but this has extreme advantages when working with others who understand you and want to do their best work. By meeting several times before Orlando, during and after, we were well organized. We put together a plan for introducing ourselves to one another before we would arrive at Virt Camp in order to have a better understanding of whom each individual is and why they would want to pursue their Masters degree with OMET. We addressed this issue in the broader learning goal of understanding what makes up a community of learners and how to do create a community of learners. Our learning activity can be found here.

I think we introduced the plan well in our initial email that Tanner sent out, and also sought out questions and clarification our group members would need by reintroducing the lesson again at the TI session. This way, we could make sure students understood the essential learnings that would be the focus on the lesson, why we wanted them to create the video, and hopefully, begin building the foundation for a community of learners. We introduced the essential questions first in our lesson design so that students could see the whole then break it down into parts as it would relate back to the whole.

It took some time to get people to participate in this activity as can be expected because three LA’s were all assigned at the same time. However, the videos that were posted were all fun to watch and interesting to see other’s reactions to each others videos. Some were of course higher quality addressing all the questions that were asked for them to put into the video in order to address the essential questions, but overall I think it worked well.

After the videos were posted, we asked the students to react to one another’s videos. This is one area where we were hoping to see not just acknowledgement and praise for each others efforts which could be the basis for building trust in a community of learners, but to also ask for additional clarification and understanding. Some did a good job of this, and others chose not to complete this aspect of the assignment at all. I think we could have put the students in smaller learning circles or taken their LC’s to have them react to one another’s videos in order to assist in reacting to videos. This way at least their would be smaller groups checking in on one another versus us.

As a final reaction from the group, we asked them to complete a survey to see their reflection on the assignment as well as its connection to our essential learnings. The survey results provided clarification on some aspects of the videos. Students who did a good job on their were frustrated by others who had not answered all the questions, and others who produced poorer quality videos expressed the challenge in being limited to 1 minute or of learning a new piece of technology. Some discussed the challenge of this being an opening activity at Virt Camp and would everyone have the expertise to know how to create a video. All of these are good reflection to consider when redesigning this lesson for another class or as Margaret has suggested for use in when we change LC’s.

I think it can’t be emphasized enough the importance of building a foundation to grow from when you are working in cooperative groups. Because we have all gotten to know each other this year, it has helped build that trust. But, could this trust have been established sooner if some of the techniques our group and G7 used? I think so.

Overall, I was happy with the Learning Activity. I wish we could have received some better quality work from all members, increased assistance from one of my Type A members, but regardless, we all completed this activity as a team, and building the foundation of a community of learners.

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