Anticipating Spring 2008

Faculty are beginning to prepare for another semester here at BSU, and I am delighted to report there is no shortage of creative ideas. An English faculty member, for instance, is planning part of his non-fiction writing course around student-created radio programs–possibly turning them into podcasts or other forms of subscription-based files. Probably the most interesting and exciting part of his foray into the world of audio production is his willingness to take risks and learn as they all move through the class. I believe that this element of risk-taking is essential to the ultimate success of learning with technology.

That is because a great deal about learning with technology involves risk-taking and learning as you go. I’m not saying that you should go into a class without knowing anything . . . I’m just saying that it’s impossible to know it all, so you have to go into this with a bit of daring. Students will appreciate your efforts, and in the process, everyone will learn much more than they thought possible.

I’ve had many opportunities to see faculty take risks in trying out new technologies to enhance learning. Faculty members in many different departments have been using wikis and have learned a great deal about how to create effective and efficient learning environments. Wikis naturally enable communication and collaboration, which demands a style of teaching that is generative and flexible. In this type of learning environment, students need to take more responsibility for their learning and learn how to become critics of their peers–not easy or inherent processes. Students need to be able to deal with a less than crystal-clear learning environment and the natural messiness of working within a wiki. Kind of like our own thought processes, wikis constantly demand reorganization and rethinking.

So, I’m greeting the spring 2008 semester with anticipation about new projects and ideas that faculty will come up with. I have the feeling that this spring will come in like a lion. And that’s good.

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