Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Working on being Non-Linear

As I craft lessons in this new semester, I’m trying to incorporate the perspectives I gained when I first considered Marc Prensky’s “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” One of my new attempts premiered with students this week: the hypertext essay assignment. I use a web-based learning management system for all my classes, where students can email me, post to discussion boards, and have access to class materials. Instead of writing a document that explained the essay assignment and highlighted important things to remember in a list, which requires students to scroll through the information or flip a handout over (Sometimes I think my purgatory would have me beating on the floor crying out, “It was on the back! I told you to read the back!”, but I digress…), I created a hypertext FAQ page for the essay assignment. Instead of scrolling (or not scrolling, as the case may be), students can click on questions like: How do I get started? What are the formatting requirements? Why can’t I turn it in as soon as I have it ready? What’s a checklist of exactly what I have to do?

In theory, my students, empowered by the non-linear and student-directed nature of these directions, will actually read all the content as they realize they need it, a.k.a. the sexy buzz words, Just in Time Learning. Will it work? I don’t know. Reading it aloud didn’t work. Adding colors and bold to a handout printed on pricy colored paper didn’t work. Sometimes I think my students just like the customization of coming up to me one by one and asking me questions. Sigh. The proof will be in the pudding. I collect thesis statements at the end of this week, so keep fingers crossed…

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

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