Monday, July 2, 2018

Summer Update - part 1

It’s been awhile since I posted anything substantial and reason for this was twofold. Firstly, some of the points that I was walking and still am walking through are kind of personal and secondly, because I have been grappling with how to best balance the honesty that I would like to put into my posts, with practical considerations of my where I am in the education system. Sometimes, it is like a balancing act: whereas radical self-honesty isn't suitable for public consumption, everything that I put into public posts requires that I consider where I am in the system, the impact that the post may have. Honestly, it can feel like technical writing - which I've become quite adept at. However, in terms of fun, it’s kind of like going from writing an adventure story of self-discovery, to writing and Ikea instructions on how to assemble the kitchen cabinet. What is there left for me to say? That’s about it. Thank you for your cooperation… What a relief that was to get off my chest, lol. What is there left to say now? Personally, I am certain that there is much and now that I’m on vacation, except for some summer work-writing that I’ve agreed to do, I plan on writing a lot a lot more, starting out with simple stuff and then gradually going into more depth. What I enjoy most these days is, believe it or not, going into work. Years ago, this was not so. Yet, now that it is, I think I will first talk about that, not in terms of the politics of office or the education system, but in terms of the evolving methodologies I have personally been implementing in all of my classes. Having just finished my fourth year at Asia University in Taiwan, I have decided once again to redesign all of my syllabuses. Essentially, this is a matter of letting go of that which doesn’t work, keeping what does work and expanding on it. So, what have I found to work best for and the classes that I teach? The first thing that comes to mind is the expanding use of technology inside and outside of the class - especially for communicating with students and managing a large amount of data. For example, instead of having students use pencil and paper (which many of them don’t even bring to class anymore), students can use their smartphones for reading, writing, posting blogs, sharing their work, making videos, messaging me and even filling in online forms that I make for the purpose of easily accessing their data, reviewing it and giving them feedback. For sure, I also utilize a classroom computer and the projection screen to focus student’s attention on material. However, as some students really seem to enjoy holding their smartphones and staring at it for long periods of time (lol), I figure, why not provide them with a link on our interactive syllabus so that they can click on it and and choose to either follow along on their smartphones or look at the whiteboard. And as it turns out, some people can be extremely productive with a smartphones.

So, what else do we do with smartphones in the classroom? We read news articles, write and post blogs, make videos of ourselves and one another discussing subjects and so on. I’m even going to purchase a selfie stick and encourage students to bring theirs to class. Basically, I’ve found that by using the smartphone in the class, instead of fighting against the flow, I begin to direct it. Therefore, in redesigning my syllabuses for next year, I plan to increase the use of smartphones in class by way of increasing the number of blogs that we write in class, while also increasing the number of videos we make of ourselves and one another. In short, my focus will remain on learning and enhancing communication skills, rather than, for example, memorizing grammatical patterns to pass a test and then never utilizing the knowledge for lack of opportunity to apply it. One thing that I’ve learned, both in terms of self-change and in terms of working within the system is that there’s no sense in denying the trend and/or attempting to resist it. Although, this statement can be taken to a very deep level, in essence, it simply means that it’s easier to direct the flow than it is to stop it.

For now, I’m going to leave this here and while this writing may seem to be somewhat surface level, it is where I’m at (on the surface) in terms of having just finished another year in the education system.

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