Though I do agree that there’s no such thing as a “dumb question,” I feel the need to briefly get up on my soapbox this morning. I promise I won’t be up there too long.

Students this semester, especially but not exclusively those in my online classes, are asking questions. That’s a good thing. It means they’re engaging.

However, they are questions that would be easily answered without asking me directly if they’d do two simple things before asking:

  1. Read the information I write for them (through e-mail, on my blog and in BlackBoard/GeorgiaVIEW)
  2. Listen to what I tell them (face-to-face, or in synchronous sessions or recorded and posted either on my blog or in BlackBoard/GeorgiaVIEW)

In at least 75% of the cases (and I really am tracking it this semester), the questions that they’re asking have already been addressed. Clarification questions? I welcome those. But basic questions like “how do I know what I’m supposed to include in my blog?” Those are a horse of a different color.

There. Now I can step off my soapbox and get back to helping my students become independent learners.

(NOTE: Ever wonder where the expression “on a soapbox” came from? Wikipedia to the rescue.)

Cross-posted from my Becoming Learner Centered blog.

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My Teaching & Learning Philosophy

On September 1, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, by Barbara Nixon

Warhol's Light Bulbs by zetson.Several years ago, a colleague shared with me this quotation by longshoreman and philosopher Eric Hoffer:

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

This quotation struck a chord with me. Put simply, my overarching goal in teaching is to ensure that our world has more learners than learned. I am fortunate to be in a role in life where I can have an impact on our future world leaders.

What do I expect from my students?

  • Prior to the class when we discuss them, students should be fully read on all of the chapters (or other reading assignments) and to be ready to discuss any part of the readings.
  • Students should raise questions when they are uncertain of the material we are discussing, including questions that I will have no easy (“pat”) answer for.
  • Students should make every effort to gain the most value that they can from the class. They should want to become independent learners.
  • Students should be responsible for helping to creative a positive, respectful and encouraging learning environment with their peers.
  • Students must comply with the university’s code of conduct.
  • Students should become aware of not only how what happens in the world (current events) impacts them, but also how what they do impacts the world. Campus is not a cocoon.

And what can my students expect from me?

  • Because I am aware that students learn in many different ways, I will not lecture at my students daily from behind a raised podium. Instead, I will provide instruction to them in an interactive manner, even in online courses. In a typical week, students will experience partner discussions, small group discussions, Internet scavenger hunts, and even crossword puzzles, in addition to short (less than 20 minute) lecturettes. “Death by PowerPoint” will not happen in my class.
  • I will provide them with the most current information I have available. I stay current on topics and trends in the industry.
  • I will stay abreast of current technology and apply it in the classroom whenever it adds to the learning experience. (Examples include current software, learning management systems, podcasts and blogs, to name a few.)
  • I will make every effort to help guide students through the issues that they raise, and we will seek resolution together.
  • I discuss both ethics and diversity as part of the curriculum in each course I teach.
  • I will make every effort I can to make sure that students understand the issues and concepts my courses present.
  • When I have positive feedback to share, I will share it openly in the classroom and call attention to students by name in the process. My goal in this is to enhance or maintain the students’ self-esteem, not to break it down. There are plenty of other places in the world where their self-esteem may be diminished. Constructive criticism will still be provided to students, but not by name in front of a whole class.
  • I truly adore those “lightbulb moments,” when I can see the metaphorical lightbulb go on above my students’ heads.
  • I expect for us to have fun in class. Laughter and learning go hand in hand in my book. If we are not enjoying ourselves in class, there’s something amiss.
  • And perhaps most importantly, I will listen to my students so that I can learn from them, too.

Questions? As always,

barbara_is_listening

Image Credit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/66814335@N00/3036254720/
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