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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Enforcing Independence and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. #RHIZO14

I have been purposely delaying my blog post regarding the Week 2 topic from #Rhizo14 class. Although when I first saw it, I told myself it's a good topic and probably so many things to talk about. But I wasn't putting much thought on it recently. Not sure if I just didn't want to think for the past few days or because I don't know where to start talking about enforcing independence on students. 

I'm still adjusting to this whole Rhizomatic Learning thing because up to now, I still don't know what a Rhizome is.. And the little voice in my head still keeps pronouncing it as "Rheeeezome" .. (See, there it goes again!!)

Not Rheezome, stupid little voice in my head, IT'S Rhayyyyzome. lol. I feel like a toddler learning words or more like, Hermione teaching me how to properly pronounce a hex. But it's nice to learn new things eh? Things that you have absolutely no idea about? Learning to learn, relearn, and unlearn? All I'm getting from observing people's conversations are key words and key phrases like: putting chaos into order, community is the curriculum...

What do you mean community is the curriculum???? I wonder if I answered this during my curriculum development course in 2012, my professor would probably say I'm being too philosophical. I tried reading blog posts about Rhizomatic Learning but I think I just got confused as ever. (I wish I new about Rhizome before though, it's a wonderful topic to bring up in class and confuse confusion we learn.)

While reading the blogs, what ACTUALLY came into my mind is that I've always had been careful of putting my real and full name scattered all over the internet, especially when I graduated college and realized that my career will be in the academe. (The fear of students googling you.) But recently with all these academic networking, I see a lot of people are actually using their own names too (Well, I think it's their real name) and it's actually nice to recognize the names of these people, when I hop into one blog to another and from one social network to another. 

It's really how you use these internet tools responsibly. And by surrounding myself with these professionals, I get to be influenced by how I should use it and talk about things that matter. 

"Small minds talk about people, average minds talk about things, great minds talk about ideas."

Sometimes though, I'm scared of what I say because I feel like I talk non-sense and sometimes I feel like I have no idea what's going on. But that's how we grow and learn right? Stepping out of the comfort zone. Dealing with the unknown. Putting yourself out there. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Things like that. 

Anyway, so how shall I start talking about enforcing independence 

Maybe I could start with a tweet I saw regarding the topic.

Funnehhhh :)

When I saw Dave's syllabus for EDD66 on how he enforced independence. I was both impressed and sad.

Impressed of course because I like to be in this class, although I really didn't get the contract part of grading.

I was sad because I remember my undergraduate Educational Technology classes, wherein we were "taught" using tools. And when final project came, I actually learned more by just googling tutorials. Classes felt so much a waste of my time.

Before I answer Week 2's challenge though, I will include Dave's response to my previous post How Do We Know What Students Need To Learn? - Thanks Dave, no idea why the spotlight suddenly went to me. (Fuzzy feelings). But it does feel like a real learner-centered classroom now where the students are "navigating" the learning experience. Wouldn't be making this video if I didn't come to class, eh? #betterlatethannever :) 


Although, Dave, I have to, uh... Listen to your video again and again (even though I still hate hearing my name.. So weird that somebody I personally don't know talking to me :P). 

Kinda having some philosophical something something in my head that's cloudy and I can't even describe it.

Does this mean, we can never know what students need to learn? 

So... We'll just, let them... Do... The choosing? 

You mean there's no answer?!? Lol 

I think I'm having an "Ohhhhhhhhh" moment here. Like, ohhhhhh.. So that's what community is the curriculum is? Shouldn't it be... The community chooses the curriculum? 

I think this is the "The Balance of Power" as far as being learner-centered is concerned, like negotiating the syllabus and allowing students to propose changes. Dave's EDD66 syllabus reminds me of Weimer's strategy in her communication class. She listed a lot of tasks that the students can accomplish in class, but only ONE task was mandatory (which was they had to give a speech, since it was communication class). Everything else, the students had the choice if they were to do it or not (they can even skip the class if the schedule for that day was not their option). Each task had corresponding points though, so it was up to the student to choose the task as long as they are able to add up and reach the certain number of points equivalent to the grade they desire. 

With regards to assigning points... I can't currently expound on the idea how you "decide" the weight of the points... That is actually one question my classmates have brought up during group study when we talked about assessment. For a rubric example, what is the basis for giving a certain % weight for a certain criteria? And for quizzes, what is the basis that 7/10 is the passing cut off? That..... is part of learner-centered assessment I have yet to ponder about. I know the answer is there somewhere, but I have to search within the file cabinets of ze brain. We can negotiate it with the class to democratically decide what is the passing grade though. But... is everything just going to be negotiated? 

Moving on... 

I will again try to relate Week 2's questions with my review of comprehensive exam because I have NOT been studying for the past few days. My mind has been floating recently. I wish my exams are over. This is prolonging THE agony. Also, I don't want to end up writing rhizomes on my Compre essays :)) I might not be able to articulate and justify it well on my exams.

Question #1 How do we create a learning environment where people must be responsible?

When I read Weimer's syllabus (as mentioned above and only remembered it as I reflected on community as curriculum), it made me think that her strategy is actually a learning environment where her students must be responsible. Responsible to choose whatever task they should be accomplishing, as well as responsible to keep track and compute their grades so that they can reach the cut off for their desired grade. Although, she had mentioned one experience where there was a student who STILL failed her class because the student didn't know that he didn't reach the cut off. "If I knew I lacked points, I would have done more", the student says. So she started to ask herself, should she have given student reminders on what their current points are, mid-semester? She had assumed that students should have been responsibly tracking down their points on their own. 

So I guess it's a trial and error thing. You figure things out as you implement it semester after semester. Her strategy to "choose whatever you want to do and participate in" actually does enforce students to be independent. 

Weimer also points out that there is also that resistance to change. Because our students are used to a system where the teacher decides for themselves, they get surprised when you give them freedom and choice. And surprisingly, given the freedom... they resist. They are used to being dependent. But since we are enforcing them to be independent, how much responsibility should we be expecting from our students? 

The question the underlies here though, is the developmental level of our students. How much freedom can our students take? Do we let them figure it out on their own? Like that of the student who failed because he didn't track his points. We can easily say, "ah he should have known". But that's why we reflect on such things because we want to avoid such things happening again and again. 

Question #2 How do we assure ourselves that learners will self-assess and self-remediate?

I guess, this is related to the scenario above. How can we assure that our students are conscious about their progress? This answers the question if we should remind them of their midterm status. Maybe "remind" shouldn't be the word, because it sounds like making them dependent. We can disseminate the information somewhere, "inform" them about it and again it will be the responsible of the student to inform themselves of their status. That, then may allow themselves room to self-assess and self-remediate their performance. 

This goes in hand with "The purpose of evaluation" in learner-centered teaching. As I've mention in previous posts Weimer's LC "the purpose of evaluation" is 1) promoting learning and 2) promoting self & peer assessment. Focusing on learning process and allowing students the opportunity to revised their work instead of focusing on assigning grades and moving on to the next task.

Giving emphasis in the learning process than merely attaining a specific grade (I'm fully aware of this, yet I myself am still grade conscious. although to be fair, I am both performance & mastery goal oriented.. So it's not just all grades that matter to me), that should help us give somewhat assurance that the students will self-asses and self-remediate. If we point out that we don't care about the grades and we are emphasizing the learning process... Wait, I just already said that. I guess I'm just emphasizing that we should focus on the learning process and not the grades. (oops, there I go repeating it again)

*RHIZO14 is the hashtag for the "Rhizomatic Learning" MOOC provided by Dave Cormier via P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)

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