Yes, my students saved this week’s session. Having just a plan A is not good enough. Thinking on our feet is essential if we want to turn disasters into fresh learning opportunities. This is what happened this week. Students had been invited to discuss learning and teaching at the University. We wanted to explore the student experience by actually having conversations with students studying currently at our institution. I thought that this would be more valuable than just talking about the students’ experiences… with my students who are teachers. Unfortunately none of the students appeared and I am still in the dark about what happened. No idea why I didn’t receive a communication that there was a problem and that no student would be able to join us. I assumed that everything would go according to plan…
1. How did I feel?
When the minutes ticked away and we had to start the session with no student in sight, I was extremely disappointed, felt let down… I would not like to say more about this here.
However, I felt excited when after explaining to my students the situation, they took the initiative and went out and returned with 4 students. I had a big smile on my face 😉 and am grateful that my students had this idea. How difficult can it be to find a few students to spend some time with teachers? Usually students complain that their teachers don’t spend enough time with them. So we put it to the test and was indeed easy peasy to get a few students! A big bravo to my students!
Activities had to be adapted but it all still worked. Just a shame that the students didn’t have the opportunity to stay with us for the whole duration of the session and have an even richer exchange with the teachers.
So pleased with the conversations that took place and the real interest from both sides, students and teachers, to build bridges and try and understand each other.
Also very pleased that we did manage to connect with Uzee in Scotland, model the use of Skype and how we can bring others into our classrooms remotely but also use it as an opportunity to discuss online postgraduate learning experiences with him.
This session was packed! Just reflecting on it now, makes me realise this! Too much happening? I need to think about this a bit more.
What else? Well, one of my students introduced the concept of storytelling (An insightful post about storytelling by Ilene Dawn can be accessed here) to the class before we actually started creating the stories of the students who joint us. I think we need to do this more! What I mean? Well, if we know that a student has a specific expertise, I think we should make use of it. Bring it out, make our student shine! Of course some students might feel uncomfortable when asked to present something to their peers and my students don’t feel any different, I suppose. But overcoming our own fears is important for learning, as well as for personal and collective growth. Liz did a great job!!!
2. What did I learn?
Being open is a must. Pretending that everything is fine, will not lead us anywhere. We also need to trust our students and empower them to come up with ideas! To help us problem solve so that we become real learning partners! We need to think fast when problems appear on the horizon and re-think strategies and approaches to make them work! Somehow! We can manage this if we work together, if we un- and re-design activities to fit the new circumstances so that we get the maximum learning out of it. To anticipate the unexpected? I think so and be prepared to make changes. We need to be flexible and adjust quickly. Are designers naturally better equipped than others? Would be interesting to find out…
We wanted to re-create the student experiences as digital stories. My students had a variety of digital gadgets with them and the three groups used different tools to create and capture their stories (www.storybird.com www.striptgenerator.com smartphone and www.flickr.com)
3. What would I do differently?
Relying on other people was a problem this week. I think next time, I will adopt a different strategy inspired by how my students solved the problem. And there could be a warning that we will need 3-4 students for this session and ask my students in advance to bring them to the session… could this work? Ideally, there should be a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students, home and international students too. So, if I prepare a profile for each, my students could then identify 3-4 students that would be a close match to a specific profile. Also, I would have liked the students to stay for the whole duration. If they knew in advance of the session, this would have been possible. So, again, better planning and always having a plan B and plan C… posing a question here to my students or anybody else who reads this and would like to reply. How would you approach this?
Completed stories missing at the moment. Please add a link to them as a comment below so that I can copy the URL into this post and share with the students as promised. Thank you 😉
Next week our design approach is Problem-Based Learning! Get ready for it LTHESep12!!!
We will be in the Clifford Whitworth Conference Room. More action and surprises! Please remember to bring your own devices with you!!!