Chapter Three Reading

Still plugging away reading Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology by Michelle D. Miller as part of a campus reading group–except I missed yesterday’s meeting because I got sidetracked by other more “pressing” issues at the office.

I was intrigued by Miller referencing Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, which is a book I read awhile ago and found fascinating.  Upon reading that book, I found myself relating to and sharing some of Carr’s concerns about how the ubiquitous and immediate access to technology was causing many of us to rely on it too much.  So it was with a bit of relief that I read Miller’s take on some common misconceptions about “Google making us stupid” by “rewiring” our brains.  She argues that our brains are constantly being rewired by new experiences–which puts a positive spin on this idea for me.  And should be perceived as something beneficial to learning–whether online or otherwise.

I’m also glad that Miller addressed the myth of multi-tasking–which to me is one of the most stubborn and prevalent myths, especially as it pertains to younger people.

Speaking of which, I also liked her take on the digital natives vs. immigrants paradigm.  She didn’t attempt to debunk it completely; but rather, she tried to rein in some lingering expectations and more misconceptions–while still acknowledging a difference in how younger generations adapt to and use technology compared to those of us who are in some ways catching up.

It was also refreshing to read her findings regarding social media and how it relates to online learning.  I’ve never been a big fan of social media, even though I use it sparingly.  I feel that the current generation–and even some of those digital immigrants–rely on it too heavily and are forsaking genuine interaction with the world and our fellow inhabitants in favor of a sanitized and misrepresented version.  The fact that studies have shown a relationship between high usage of social media and poor academic performance was not surprising to me.

I am still very interested in continuing my reading to see what else Miller has to contribute to the discussion about online learning and best practices for it.  Now I have to catch up and read chapters four and five for my meeting next week.

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Chapter Two Reading

As I wrote in my previous post, I’ve started reading Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology by Michelle D. Miller as part of a reading group on campus where I work.  I’ve always had an interest in teaching methods and pedagogy, so I thought participating in the reading group would be a good way for me to get back into that mode of thinking.

Chapter two of the book delved more into breaking down the components of best practices for effective instruction overall, then comparing and contrasting face-to-face teaching and online instruction based on those criteria and the findings of some notable studies.

I thought the section on methods for discouraging from students cheating was especially interesting–particularly the mention of how high-stakes assignments tend to encourage cheating.  And that a relatively simple remedy of offering students more opportunities to succeed through frequent lower-stakes assignments discourages cheating–as well as increases mastery.  It seems deceptively simple in its effectiveness.

I also learned the term for the fatigue working professionals experience after a full day at work and managing their personal lives–and the toll it can take on their investment in an asynchronous online program.  It’s called the “third-shift effect”.

I thought Miller’s point about ensuring a buy-in from a learning institution’s IT department cannot be overstated.  Speaking from personal experience, I’ve seen first-hand what can go wrong when department administrators and/or faculty don’t communicate their IT-related needs and expectations–and, conversely, when academic IT departments are not proactive about advertising their services or reaching out to faculty to learn their IT needs.

Next up: Chapters three and four.