end of semester reflections

On Tuesday, students in my grad class will be doing presentations in our final meeting of the semester. It’s been an interesting and difficult semester. A couple observations:

  • Co-teaching: I’ve taught in learning communities before, but this was my first experience co-teaching a class. There were some real advantages to doing this. Karen and I complemented one another in terms of our strengths and experience. Having two faculty also really enlivened the course blog. However it was not easy to negotiate some of the decisions about the course and how we managed it. Over all I think we were lucky that we ended up being so compatible, given that we hadn’t worked together in the past. As happy as I was with the outcome this semester, I would be more hesitant to jump into this with another faculty member in the future.
  • iTunes U & tech buy-in: I had difficulty with student buy-in into iTunes U in this course; that wasn’t really a problem in my undergrad course, but here it was. It was part of a general problem getting students to work with the applications in the course, primarily the Apple iLife apps. I approached the course with the idea of making things easier for students by telling them they could use other (PC) apps if they wanted to to complete their projects. That was an error on my part. It resulted in many questions about these apps and a slew of other problems with PCs, such as interfacing with other devices (e.g. mini-DV cameras). In the future I won’t do this. If students end up using PCs that will be there problem but I am going to lay out how the assignment is to be completed and only support those options. The bottom line is that it’s just not possible for me to support all these different situations. Furthermore, allowing students to stray from the applications in the course really undermines some of the pedagogic elements of the course. I mean if we spend two or three weeks on Garage Band and then the students go home and try to use Audacity, simply b/c they don’t feel like coming to campus to record their podcast then clearly something is going wrong. I’m going to emphasize more technology buy-in next semester.
  • Bye-bye to English Education: this is my last semester teaching this course for our English Education grad students. From now on, I’ll be focusing more on our Professional Writing program. I’ve been teaching this course pretty much every year since I got here. Leaving it behind is my choice. It’s a complex situation. It’s one of those things where in a sense I’ve been on loan to this program (even though we’re in the same department), and at some point you’ve got to say either one becomes an integral part of a program and participates in its structure or one parts ways. In short, I’m happy for the English Education program to deliver their degrees however they want to do it… as long as they don’t expect me to deliever their technology curriculum.


2 replies on “end of semester reflections”

I have to thank you for a great semester. You have consistently challenged all of us to really question and to rethink our notions of what English is. I’ve said this before, but because I really disliked English in High School and because I did not initially pursue it in college, I have been more than ready for these kinds of questions.
Also, I do understand your frustration with the apps that we chose to use. However, I still think that if this class is about learning to learn, then it’s a good thing for people to experiment. Of course, I think people need to realize that if we do deviate, you and Karen will more likely be unable to help us. I admire your patience in class when people constantly approach you with a bunch of questions about apps you’re unfamiliar with. It would drive me crazy. But I think I have learned more by trying new things and not relying on the iLife book.


Dr. Reid,
I agree with Natalie about the technology buy-in issue. While I understand that you cannot support every conceivable possible application and operating system, I feel that an important element of the course would be lost if students were restricted to just the Mac applications. For me, a large part of this course involved finding and learning applications that could do what I needed. However, I don’t recall ever asking you for technical assistance, because I realized that that would be an unrealistic expectation. As long as you make it clear that you cannot help students who go beyond specific applications, I don’t see that as a failure of any pedagogic element of the course. In fact, it’s a success in that English education is not about learning how to use these specific technologies, but instead learning how to learn (stole that from Will Richardson).
I’m glad your evaluation of co-teaching was generally positive. I can imagine that Dr. Stearns might be difficult to work with sometimes. 🙂


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