Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leading the herd

Before we get too locked into a pattern that every succeeding session will imitate, I want to make a few observations.

(1) It is good that we are getting class participation in the sessions and that students in the audience are bringing their experiences to bear on that. However, once a point has been made one echo on that point is ok. Multiple echoes are not adding further. Time is scarce. Yesterday we didn't cover all that the team planned to present. So members of the audience need to make a judgment about whether what they want to say is a contribution to the discussion. Please use your good judgment on that.

(2) I have asked each team to prepare a presentation online in advance of their session so members of the class can be prepared. I didn't intend for that online presentation to be used during the session. It's not that you can't use it. That's still your choice. But I'm sure everyone is familiar with the phrase - death by PowerPoint. The slides can take over in the minds of the presenters and they begin to feel impelled to do everything that is on them, regardless of the circumstances in the class session. Presenters might instead use hard copy notes. Or they might show a little bit on the screen, but otherwise not rely on it for the entire session. (There is the other issue that to make the screen viewable, the lights in the front should be dimmed to the presenter is in the dark.)

(3) The posts and comments that teams make are also obviously a way of preparing for the session. There is then the question of whether those should end up driving the session or only be a sidebar. My sense this is it has to be a judgment call by the team leading the session, but it is a call that should be made in advance. So teams should have a game plan going in on that.

(4) Prior commenting on the posts by the presenting team is a good thing to do. We read in different ways depending on the purpose. Reading slower and more deliberately with reflection while we read is obviously more time consuming, but one gets a much better sense of what is there that way. Commenting on the posts is a way to encourage that sort of deliberateness and I believe also encourage the participation of other members of the class.

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