Cairns- Conference and other matters

Hello all! It has been a blast in Cairns! both the heat, the fantastic tropical environment and the conference with speakers from all around the world. Hearing teachers around the world talking about the way the internet is transforming their teaching was a mind stretching experience. University education is going through a huge revolution (the biggest shift since the invention of the book in the 1400s!). The internet is without doubt providing a way for more flexible learning experiences and for ways of deepening communities and contacts in this excessively busy world of ours. There is so much to learn and it will take me a few weeks to digest it all. But I was extremely proud to present such a range of positive comments from first, second and third year Literature students about their on-line experiences. My presentation here was very well received. The title of the paper was “WebCT with LiveJournal: 5 C’s: Creativity, Community, Connection, Collaboration, Cohesion- Expanding Interactive Learning in the Humanities”. Sounds a mouthful… and I did try to prune it… but when you only have 45 minutes to tell people about a year’s worth of teaching, you try to get as much into the title as you can. What I especially enjoyed telling my audience that using LiveJournal and WebCT was helping me to move away from the old top-down paradigm of teaching where students were required to sit quietly and soak up their professors brilliance!!!!@#$$%%??? The new technologies are helping to change this. Here is a wonderful quote from one of my current gurus, Palker Palmer (he is an American Quaker who wrote the book “The Courage to Teach”- I can recommend it to all):

“… our assumption that students are brain-dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains. When we teach by dripping information into their passive forms, students who arrive in the classroom alive and well become passive consumers of knowledge and are dead on departure when they graduate…. we rarely consider that students may die in the classroom because we use methods that assume they are dead.”
Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

For everyone’s benefit here are just a few of your comments (1st, 2nd and 3rd year) that I actually used in my presentation (they really helped to give my paper an immediacy… this was not just theoretical stuff, but it was based on real-live students! so thank you all again:

“The biggest benefit I have found using LiveJournal actually comes from being able to read other students “work”. Acquaintances have become good friends, and LiveJournal has been the catalyst for that. I went to uni for 2 years with the people in this current English class and it was only last semester, through reading their musings on the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to or the football that they follow that I felt like I was getting to know them. Personally, I found it broke down walls and the dynamic of the students in the unit began to change and become incredibly cohesive.”

“LiveJournal has created a great launching pad for my creative writing. Because of its ease and accessibility my writing does not end up in some forgotten scrapbook, its amazing to think that peers, tutors and even the world have access to my work!”

“If livejournal didn’t exist I don’t think I would have ever discovered my liking for writing poetry. It allows me to share my poetry and to also be inspired by other student’s poetry!”
Great idea!

“I have found live journal to be an excellent resource, ironically at the beginning of the year i thought it would be a waste of time. It provides a space where i can creatively air anything at all in an informal way. It’s great because previously we haven’t had a creative outlet… Now we do!!! It also means i can share my ideas and hear my fellow students thoughts as well. I now rave about it!!!!”

“I like the fact that I have the freedom to write what I want, and not be too worried about grammar etc. Livejournal allows you to write freely and then use your ideas to formulate assignments etc. When I go out into the “big wide teaching world” I hope that I can introduce this technology to my own students. If I had of known about an online journal I would have done it sooner, cause I can add graphics and pics of my own…IT’S GREAT!!”

“I think LiveJournal is great, it allows us to explore as well as view the different emotions of everyday experiences. It also gives us an insight into the study of literature and the texts we are studying that we may not have picked up on our own.”

“Live Journal has become addictive for me! It’s great because it’s a place where I can write down my thoughts on various things we read and look at in literature and where I can get some feedback from other people. It’s also entertaining/enlightening reading what other people write as well so I think it’s a very good learning tool!”

“I am enjoying the community forum more than my own personal writing (the debate is my favourite! in fact I would like to add thoughts to another debate if we have time…) It is interesting to read what others think and then have the opportunity to write back to that. I know we can access everyone’s journal, but having a community allows for that all in the one go, with a variety of responses!”

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