Project Reflection: Culture at Home

"Culture at Home" Homepage

On paper, I feel like my plan to integrate pseudo-social interaction into the homeschool class I tutor was sound. While uploading the student’s essay onto a WordPress blog was relatively straightforward, using an integrated custom Google Map added a bit of flavor to what otherwise would have been a dull educational resource. When I first pitched my idea to the parents, they seemed generally interested; I took this as evidence that what I was creating would succeed—it did not. Unfortunately, some parents become wary of posting their child’s work on the blog itself. I don’t believe this has to do with it being on the Internet per se; rather, I believe they were self-conscious about their peers seeing the work of their kids. It’s hard to get annoyed by this—obviously they have their child’s best interest at heart. However, it was rather fascinating to see how enthusiasm for a concept can wane when it becomes a reality.

The student’s didn’t seem that enthusiastic about their role in the blog either. Since there isn’t much social interaction regarding their respective essays, I assumed that they would be naturally interested in seeing the work of their peers. Unfortunately, this proved to be false. Someone pointed out to me that getting people to leave “natural” comments in a public, online space is incredibly difficult. If you force people to do so—in this case, by making it a graded assignment—the comments become contrived. However, if you adopt my chosen approach of “wait-and-see,” you end up with nothing. It’s a difficult conundrum to crack.

All in all, this was still a great experience. Beyond the obvious benefit I’m now rather familiar with WordPress, I also learned that while feedback from your users is incredibly important, it’s by no means proof that your concept is faultless. In someway, I’m sure this knowledge will prove fruitful moving forward.

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One Reply to “Project Reflection: Culture at Home”

  1. Just thought it would be beneficial to bring our discussion from last Wednesday’s class to the blog to see what others thought.

    We discussed that through your project you ran into the issue of the students not posting or comments on others posts on their own time. From this perspective if you wanted to engagement on posts you would make them a mandatory part of the course (which you couldn’t because this was created during the semester). This is a problem that a lot of Professors face; not just ones that teach online courses.

    Ideally the teacher who is teaching the course generally enjoys the topic and has a legitimate interest in it. Naturally in their spare time they indulge in the topic as they read about it, think about it, and discuss it with others that share this natural interest. And for that format it absolutely works and very insightful discussions are found. This overwhelming success is something that most recognize. This idea is often applied to courses with mild success.

    There exists two extremes in my opinion when it comes to posting/commenting on your peers work. You can have it be optional – where you likely won’t get as much content but can guarantee that it’s genuine. Or you can have it be mandatory for a grade where everyone is sharing their opinion but perhaps the responses are as full-fledged or “deep” as the responses you would see from someone who shares their opinion at their own will.

    And while we may experience this briefly it seems as if this trend is to only grow. The days of lecturing seemed numbered, and while it still serves its purpose in some courses, and there is momentum behind teaching a discussion style class in other courses. But we will still do see is particularly “weak” responses that are likely due to meeting the criteria.

    However I do feel that there is much hope. This type of learning is still fairly new and we’re just starting to get our feet wet. Another condition to consider is the students that are experiencing these courses now, and who will be 10 years from now. We weren’t raised learning this type of way so of course there will be some hesitant awkwardness and adjustments. However for students that are just now in elementary or middle school they will likely grow up with blogging being a part of many of their courses and the idea of seeing their peers work normalcy and instead of a rarity when providing peer reviews.

    And with anything I say that this type of learning will other further what is going on in the classroom. We judge ourselves highly on how we compare to our peers. And with us being able to see where we stack we are in a sort gamifying education and trying to live up to the best post to ensure our grade while improving our content.

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