Monday, August 28, 2006

The drop-in session on Friday seemed to go well ... and things seem to be coming together for most people. There are an interestingly large proportion of students this semester who have decided to learn & use Dreamweaver or the geocities website building tools rather than going down the Questgarden path - for which I am grateful. After my experience last semester with trying to explain how to get their webquest pages complete with all their images, animations etc saved down to their local university server, it will be a relief not to have to hassle too much with this. It is such a tedious process.
I may have had some influence on these decisions :-)

This whole process also reminds me that I probably need to make up a basic worksheet explaining how the directory structure works on computers, how local machines link to servers and how the web and the internet mediate this structure. For people who have grown up only knowing and using the web, & using the xp/2000+ versions of Windows, I guess the whole directory and tree structure is less than transparent.
This may be a task for next semester.

We are grappling at the moment with the complexities of embedded features in web pages, the need to have an index.html file at the top level and the necessity of having all the files associated with a single site located in a single folder in the same directory, on the local server ... as well, of course, as the structure of webquests, the importance of having a task that requires their students to change or transform the information they find on websites in some way (to avoid plagiarism in addition to the good pedagogical reasons), the evaluation rubrics and the rationale on the teacher's page.

Because of my need to grade the webquests, this latter is now serving 3 purposes: 1. to provide me with the information I need to be able to grade the webquests from a pedagogical perspective (reflections & rationale); 2. to give other teachers & classmates enough information about the objectives of the webquests & what students they are designed for - so they can decide whether these would be useable for them; and 3. for more thoughtful students to use to understand
better the purpose of the webquests and what students might learn through doing them.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

After the workshop on Saturday, I hope that community cohesion will now start to build, as it didn't seem to be forming yet. There is a critical mass of students who are active, so I'm hopeful that these will draw the others along with them.

In this semester, there seems also to be more student-instigated emphasis on forming groups to work on the 1st project (possibly because of a real deadline) :-)

A worrying aspect of this group is that they seem to be less inclined to go ahead and take the initiative than the previous students … perhaps it's till early days, but they seem to need more direction from me about what to do, how to do it & when to start. It may again be a function of the fact that this time I have set deadlines ... of well ... win some, lose some ... :-( Or perhaps it is also an effect of a totally different group of personality types with different learning and cognitive styles. I guess time as the semester progresses and I have time to analyse their responses on the questionnaire, just exactly which factors are most salient will become clearer.

I'm struggling with limitations of the QUT server/system access (lag in our faculty at least between pedagogical innovation & technical provision) and on Saturday during the workshop several students weren't able to see their QUT server space for their web pages - apparently because the system was being updated during that time.

I had a wonderful birthday though! Someone in the class found out & I was presented with a lovely bunch of flowers & a chocolate mudcake - which didn't last long, but gave us the energy to carry on for the rest of the day :-P

Monday, August 21, 2006

Well, the second workshop went well on Saturday - I think?! I'll wait to see what my studetns have to say in their blogs. There were certainly lots of questions & I think lots of learning - the learning curve is still steep for almost everyone ... including me! :-)
I'm now about to go & give a presentation on the changes to the course that I started last semester ... so I plan to have some more time later to post on that & the workshop.

Friday, August 18, 2006

OK - so I've been really slack these last few weeks about posting on & updating my blog ... what can I say, except that life sort of overtook me?!

Tomorrow is our second workshop & should be full of exciting things to do & learn - & hopefully we can have some good discussions about Webquests & what they are all about. I see that some students have been posting questions on the course OLT discussion forum, so I think it will be time.

Also time for everyone to start getting active on their blogs & to see what can be done on the Wiki page ... interesting times ahead.