I love how students transform from unresponsive mutes to vibrant knowledge-spouters when you find ways to let them talk. Too bad I couldn’t find a way to wake the network in Auditorium B from its unresponsive state, too, but we did fine anyway. Students are quite able to chat with their neighbours to try and figure out the aim of a newspaper site and an auction site from memory (we did dagbladet.no and qxl.no), and to discuss the connotations of today’s MIT homepage. Here’s a screenshot in case it changes, and look, a handy, Norwegian, explanation of denotations, connotations and associations – the difference isn’t obvious the first time you hear the words. The biggest change came when I told the students they were experiencing problem-based learning (that must have been the voice in my head asking where the 2 x 45 min lecture was) and asked them to spend fifteen minutes pouring over printouts of microsoft.com and apple.com‘s front pages discussing the differences with the two people closest to them. After all that at least ten different people (trust me, that’s a lot) took part in the larger discussion, and lots of great points were made. I even started getting the hang of their names! A great thing about teaching web design and how to read the web is that the students tend to have lots of very varied knowledge about the web.
For Wednesday the students are blogging posts comparing Microsoft and Apple’s websites. We’ll discuss these and do peer (and teacher) feedback on Wednesday – hopefully if we do a fair bit of very focussed writing like this, the graded blog post analysing a website, which is due in a month, will be totally honed and excellent. Perhaps they’ll spend a month writing and rewriting their Apple and Microsoft readings, or the posts they wrote about “Faen” and The Unknown, and their handed in work will be brilliant. Or at least they’ll have written several posts in the genre before handing one in.
I want to improve at writing productive assignments and tasks. I find it hard to describe what, exactly, a good, short post discussing a website should contain. Often my explanations seem far too long. Matt‘s assignments are exemplary and I’m secretly planning to steal them all for next semester’s Digital Media Aesthetics (if they hire me) but sadly, they’re not quite right for web design. They’re great for general inspiration, though. Just look at the wisdom in that assignment on Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. Maximum learning for the students compressed down into a manageable assessment load for the teacher. Perfect.