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This is an old revision of TheFinalPaperBJR made by BonnieRobinson on 2018-04-30 10:12:25.


I think I have always been intrinsically motivated. I'm not sure what accounts for that. I wish I could pin point it because that might make it easier to replicate in the classroom. Growing up I attended several different schools and experienced a variety of teaching styles and school settings, so perhaps having the educational rug continuously pulled out from under me contributed to my ability to find motivation within myself. I was constantly trying to adjust and regain my balance. It's possible I learned to be intrinsically motivated by my parents, but then again, I'm not sure what parenting techniques to credit other than their own steady examples which were closely linked to their faith, so in many ways, I could attribute my intrinsic motivation to my own personal faith. We were raised with Colossians 3:23-24 for instruction: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Doing ones best was a way of serving God. Personality could play a role. I've always enjoyed the creative process and could conclude that creative people tend to be more intrinsically motivated. I really would like to find the silver bullet to amplify that inner motivation in all of my students.
The current education system is heavily lopsided with extrinsic reward systems, starting in the earliest elementary grades. Students are constantly earning prizes and trinkets and free stuff in return for their efforts - most of which is not creative but is quantitative. By the time the students arrive at my college composition class, many of them have no recollection of coming up with a project or paper on their own. Teachers have assigned very prescriptive work, again reducing (if not obliterating) the creative and emphasizing a measurable outcome. Of course, teaching at a community college, we serve a population where 60% of the newly enrolling students test in under-prepared. A large number of my students claim they have never been asked to write a paper on their own. They tell me about templates or highly structured worksheets they were told to use for the process. Most of my students have never written creatively, certainly not for enjoyment. By and large, my students have rarely been asked to think.

Krug's title, Don't Make Me Think, is a phrase regularly resounded in my classroom at any given time during a semester. Students quickly recognize that my assignments are designed in a way to make them think, and a few of them are excited about the freedom that allows right away. Several of them take a while to get comfortable with the idea, and a few never do embrace it. Personally, I find thinking to be such a rewarding process in itself that I have a hard time understanding the students' perspectives. They will often self-describe as lazy, but I see them put in double (if not triple) the amount of effort to reproduce something rather than to create something unique. My theory on all this is not that students don't want to think, but that they don't recognize what thinking looks like and they aren't aware of the many ways of thinking. It's almost a fixed mindset thing. Students identify either as thinkers or non-thinkers.

In the past, I've attempted to tap in to their intrinsic motivation is by forcing them out of their comfort zones and creating new comfort zones. I quickly try to undo the fear and intimidation students have about thinking by having them do it often and by having the thinking be something more playful. I also try to preserve time and space for reflection, so students can begin to recognize the thinking process at work and see the results. This course on Web Content Design has given me some new ideas about how I can perhaps have more success in helping students be more intrinsically motivated.

The concepts around Web Content Design made me reorganize my teaching philosophy. I want to develop curriculum and a classroom environment where students are expected to think and to think about thinking, but where they will choose this for themselves - maybe without even realizing they are doing it at first.

Administrative Details

Here are some things I learned from Krug:
Krug's concepts are ones I plan to employ immediately when it comes to developing content for the courses I teach, both the online content as well as the face-to-face. I thought Krug's principles are really useful when applied to the more administrative aspects of the class. Krug's principles will assist me in being able to communicate clearly information that the students need to know but don't really need to think about.

Curriculum Details
Beyond rethinking how I present the administrative content, I have been reconsidering the materials and curriculum of my courses. The readings we tackled and the emphasis on linking, really gave me a new perspective, and I'm excited to apply these ideas in an upcoming semester.

Applying LaFarge to the Classroom

LaFarge argued that online reading could be even a better experience than print reading because via hyperlinks and technological advances (along with creativity, vision, and innovation), readers could plunge in to the experience. There could be no end to the depths the reader could travel to. I love this idea, but I'm wondering how to get some of my students there. I have some who would read everything humanely possible between class periods, putting their own health at risk because they felt they had to read everything to get the good grade, and then I have those who will barely read at all. How do you get students to read for the experience of it?

Applying Vennavar Bush to the Classroom

Bush's concept of the Memex as a way of storing personal information might be really useful in helping students achieve the desire to plunge in to reading online the way Lafarge argues. In this class, we used the wiki pages as a sort of Memex to contain our notes and our thoughts on what we were studying. I'd like to assign something similar - something that the students could constantly be adding to and changing as they read new texts or visit new sites. It might be motivating for them to watch their own pages fill up with notes as they study. Especially, if they can look in at what their classmates are doing - to add a little competitive edge to it. Asking the students to keep notes about the things they've read or sites they've visited, will also provide some type of reward for the student because he/she will be documenting what they've done in a way that both students and instructor can see it. This might motivate students more than just being asked to read but them not being provided any opportunity to demonstrate the work they've done. The additional benefit of using a form of a Memex is that the student has something preserved for future use.

Applying Mcluhan to the Classroom

What really stuck with me from Mcluhan's essay was this phrase, "...unconscious consumer of industrial folklore." I think he's saying we are consuming the media blindly and recreating it unwittingly. His article motivates me to try and find an innovative way to wake students up from that slumber - from their passive existence (and ours) as blind participants to progressive and proactive thinkers. I'm deeply troubled by the state of education in my sons' school, especially in the area of technology. Four years ago, when my youngest started kindergarten, the Rochester Public School District rolled out their one-to-one ipad initiative. The quality of education at our school plummeted soon after. I cannot blame the teachers. They were forced to implement the use of ipads in all of their courses without much training. Even my husband, who teaches P.E. in the district had to find ways to use the ipads as an integral part of his P.E. curriculum. He's a great teacher, and he was able to do it successfully, and his solution addresses this topic perfectly, but before I explain his solution, I want to step back and talk about what was going on at my sons' school. Suddenly, with this pressure to use the ipad, my kids were getting homework from every class due on the ipad. We saw endless math programs and reading programs. My kids were being introduced to a plethora of "educational" games on the ipads. But one thing all of this new high tech curriculum had in common was a consumerism focus. The kids consumed or completed a very dictatorial task, and that was it. There was no curriculum (and still isn't) dedicated to helping the students become the producers, creators and innovators. Students are introduced to a new program, learn the conventions, meet the objectives, end of story. My husband found a creative way for the students to make the technology work for them. Twice a year he does fitness testing. Once at the beginning of the year and again at the end for students to assess their progress. The students use the video camera on the ipad to record themselves (or with a partner) doing their push-ups or squats or whatever exercise. Then the student watches his/her own self, critiques his/her own form and repeats the exercise, making any necessary adjustments. I love this because the students are using the technology as a tool that is useful for them. Of course, it doesn't leave room for creativity and innovation, etc... but they are not simply consuming.

I'd like to use Mcluhan's idea in a classroom to get students to try to see how they have been consumers and to find creative ways to step outside of that. Maybe just ask the students to seek out ways they could change how they engage with some of the technology or media they consume everyday and report back to the class what they did. This could be really empowering for students and eye-opening. Using |Jill Walker Rettberg's book, we might be able to delve into the way technology is shaping us a bit more, but I haven't decided whether I want to use these things as texts or as optional texts. ???

Applying Ted Nelson to the Classroom

I believe it was Nelson that argued in Computer Lib that it was a myth that the computers were hard to understand and on the elite "geeks" could dabble in this science. Nelson claimed that everyone needed an understanding of computers... and I think this argument goes for many things in our society. We live in a society that functions on the idea that you either are or you are not, or you can or you cannot. We don't really operate with the mentality that you can learn something if you try.

This semester was very energizing for me because I was one of those fixed mindset people in many ways. I didn't believe I was tech savvy or that I could be. I thought it would be much more of a struggle than it actually was once I got my feet wet and actually went into the water. I also had to reevaluate my own self-perceptions. I realized I had a very narrow definition of what it meant to be tech savvy. I thought it meant to understand the way computers operate, to know how to code and develop software, to hack the systems, etc... I wasn't really considering the ability to navigate systems that are already in place (something I am quite efficient at). I wasn't thinking about how I could engage with different sites or content online, and I wasn't thinking about my own contributions. Bringing technology and media from something out there to something very personal was life-changing for me. Nelson ponders why humans tend to think of some machines (like the toaster) as a warm machine but a computer as a cold one. I don't know that I would go so far as to say people think of their toasters as warm in any other way than literally when they get hot during use, but it did make me think about how one's perception of a machine can certainly be altered based on the experiences one is having with it.

That brings me back to the classroom. Many of my students do not look forward to my class. They feel intimidated coming in. English has never been their "thing." They say. Other students, however, love reading and writing. It is totally their thing. So, I do work hard to try and kindle a flame for literature and writing by helping students understand what it's all about. To take them from the position of outsider and welcome them in. But maybe there's something to be adapted here from these guys who were so enamored with the hyperlink and it's ability to draw people in. Maybe using hyperlink rich texts, I can help some of those students who are nervous about reading to find their own way in. Maybe having the links there will feel like having second chances and third chances. If they aren't feeling one text, there's another one to choose from. I like the control this gives the student.

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