Bryn Mawr is my home.
That one phrase is so much more than the five words it contains. Now more than ever before. To me, a home is much more than four walls or a campus. Bryn Mawr is home to me because of its people, because of its community. It is here that I have become comfortable with who I am - my sexuality, my past, my life.
When I first began to think about this final paper, I knew I wanted it to be about this place that means so much to me. Bryn Mawr. I also wanted to incorporate in parts of my other papers. As I reflected over my work and growth in this course, I realized I left my third paper open ended without a firm direction in terms of education for Wabash. During conversations (usually over food) with my friends, I began to see that Bryn Mawr also needs a new form of education. An education in inclusion. I began to think of my second paper on the inclusiveness/discrimination of the straight community within Bryn Mawr's community. I concluded Bryn Mawr needs an intervention.
The phrase "feminism unbound" is strange to me. I thought at first I understood it, but when we began to discuss this phrase in class, I got even more confused. So I sat down to think about it on my own. I thought about the rigors of society, the boundaries have set for ourselves and others, the world we have been told should exist. As someone who has chosen to go to an all-women's college I know I follow certain boundaries within the walls of Bryn Mawr College, regulations the college sets for me. I began to think of similar institutions. A friend of mine also goes to a single-sex institution, Wabash College, an all-men's college in Indiana. Wabash sets regulations for its students as well. A potential new regulation is a gender studies graduation requirement. This debate struck a chord with me, especially when I discovered the contorted view of gender studies some members of the institution had created around this issue . . .
"[The] wimpy, neutralized guys that gender feminists are trying to create: men who are not committed to constructive struggle and conflict and fighting for a cause and coming out the winner." (Michaloski and Allman) This statement was made by Dr. David P. Kubiak, a Classics professor at Wabash College in relation to the debate at Wabash over the proposition of a gender studies graduation requirement.
In my workshops on building effective blended courses, I talk about the importance of metacognitive skills for learning, and how faculty can use blended learning to help students develop and exercise those skills.
Maryellen Weimer posted a great article on Faculty Focus, describing quick exercises you can use to start a course off with a metacognitive reflection. I think they could also work as mid-semester reflections, as a chance to reflect on a course experience thus far and make adjustments as needed. You could introduce the exercise the same way, but follow with a debrief discussion or writing exercise that prompts students to compare their best experience with their experience in the current course so far and think about ways to incorporate elements of the former into the latter.
Last week my group had a Skype meeting with the co-director of Arise, to try to get a basic understanding of what our goals are for working with Arise. It is a relatively new program and their website did not provide us with a significant amount of information about the formal structure or clear programs, goals, plans, and objectives of the company. So, we were hoping that talking with Mr. B. would provide us with that clarity that we were seeking. Some members of our group seemed to feel as though not much progress was made during the Skype call since he did not really provide us with any specific tasks or actions he wanted us to perform for him. However, I felt like this was an indicator in its own form; we are going to have to put just as much thought into generating projects and collaboration activities as Mr. B and his partner are. One of the things that we were able to get out of the Skype call was the importance of story telling in Ghanaian culture. So, we took this and ran with it when looking forwards and attempting to create a plan for our engagement in this exchange. We began brainstorming ways that we could use technology as a form of story telling and we played with the idea of that being the theme for one of Arise’s workshops. An idea that arose in Alice’s facebook conversation with Mr. B was the creation of introductory videos that could be shared between the participants in the workshops and us.
One thing that I have learned from the course so far are the different kinds of technology that are present in the classrooms as well as their implications. I have always looked down on technology since I find it to be a distraction rather than a aid in learning. Our outlook on technology in the classroom is forever changing and we definitely take technologies (both old and new) for granted. My rose would be the encouragement to "think outside the box" and participate in different ways that differ from my math education. My thorn would be that because my computer is broken, it really discourages me from doing my readings online and participating in the types of technologies we're learning about.
I felt like this unit was a good introduction and laid down the foundation for the class: defining the terms and posing the big questions to contemplate over the course of the semester. It has encouraged me personally to engage with and explore technology that I have been reluctant to experiment with in the past, including prezi and instagram, and I am excited to continue to learn. We have also established initial contact with our pen pals in Ghana and while we are uncertain about the development of that relationship at this point, I am excited about the possibilities. The prospect of an undeveloped structure to this part of the course is exciting but at the same time, a bit anxiety provoking, and so I hope we can help future participants by laying down some sort of structure for them.
At the end of the thrid week I have to say that what I have truly enjoyed is learning more about my own interests and uses for technology. I am very excited to start my field placement which I feel will be very grounding on the subject of tech and education and to continue exploring twitter and blogs for articles and comments in the field.
Something that I had trouble with was our assignment to analyze a question from Selwyn's book. I had a lot of trouble with this analysis and could not get into the paper I was writing. I think most of the troubled stemmed from my own uncertanties with the question and lack of observations and knowledge. I am hoping at the end of the course I can come back to this paper and truly reflect on this stage of the class and where I was in my thinking. I feel with my field placement and further reseach I will be better equipped to analyze the question: Does technology make education fairer?
For the class I hope we continue to incorporate digital media into the class and that I personally can keep up with my explorations on my blog.
I found this NYT article on Twitter and I feel like it links to our conversation on "effective" uses of technology in the classroom as well as the teacher vs technology debate.