Before trying to outline a “final project” I would like to hear the voices of the students. Yes, because first of all, teachers must learn to hear the voices of their students, before applying methods, before thinking about theories, before outlining strategies.
For me, it was not much about incorporating connectivist principles in my design and delivery of learning but the other way around, in a way. In eight years of activities, I went on through a series of steps listening to the students constantly, much as a steerer is listening to the winds on its sailboat. Then I found myself in a new place. It was quite pleasant but I wouldn’t have been able to describe it except in a rather fuzzy way.
In the meanwhile I heard some people talking about a place that seemed to me very familiar and they called it Connectivism. Well, I’m not completely sure we are talking about the same thing but anyway the two places should not be very far apart.
Coming back to the students, those of the present semester are still working. Thus I let you hear the voices of last year. They are collected in a page of my feed aggregator but we prepared a translation of a sampling of them.
- Thank you very much prof because you let us express ourselves with no pressure and because you took us away from that routine which is, for us, made up of only exams. A lot of pages that we need to learn by heart which we instantly forget after the exam… for your course, well, everything will be different!!!!.
- First of all, I’d like to say that I was in that 10% of people who were afraid of even switching on the computer, but now I can say that I’m not a geek, but I’ve learnt how to use basic computer tools in order to enjoy my own relationship with computers and the internet.
- The web 2.0 is not compulsory related to Medicines (actually, it is fully related to this discipline!), but it is for the ideas behind the web 2.0 that we must study this subject in order to be well-prepared as physicians.
- I can say that this course has been weird. Different, completely different from what I had been facing until now. With my own job I should be ready to any innovation… But when the Prof. said: well, guys, you have to make a blog, the first thing that came up to my mind was: ok Prof., I’ll do it only if you pass over me!… Anyway, I did it: I created my own blog. And for the first time I didn’t feel like a machine repeating words after words: I felt a real person. In this ocean of books, once in my life I found a shining drop!
- I suddenly liked the idea of a blog. At least for the chance to interact with other students and with the Prof. himself other than in the university atmosphere. The digital literacy course has been more than something relegated to the university: we talked about the use of language, the relationship among students, the relationship doctor-patient….
- The beauty of all this has been not only the new approach, which is always positive… also because if this method had been spread to other subjects, my enthusiasm would have been the same and it will certainly be the same once that the astonishment for this new method has faded…
- That is the peculiarity of Prof Andreas and his way of teaching! First digital literacy lesson: a lot of words and an argument which sounds weird to everybody: no regular lessons (that is to say classroom, students behind a desk, teacher talking continuously about things hard to understand, lots of notes, frequency attendance, but also tons of yawns from the students and too much boredom!!), but the Prof. will always be at our disposal in the computer lab to help us… and to talk about anything!!!
- We went through this experience and it’s time to take stock of this novelty. Let’s start from the beginning. I must say that when the teacher proposed to us this different type of exam through a blog I was struck, even for a moment. Just because it is a type of assignment that everybody can demand to an expert, then because the Prof. had to be absent during the whole process. I found it a bit weird. Then, taking into account my inexperience, I saw a lot of difficulties in my path as I felt alone. I had a strong doubt on whether to make a traditional exam or not. But the need to make something new has been stronger. No books, no traditional exams, no stress that specific day when your performance is never great. Then I just gave it a try (…) The evaluation is absolutely positive. Only a negative remark: the Prof was not always present….
- I was surprised by this attention not to the contents of the subject but to the best method for the students: not a simple referential way of teaching, as it often happens (with bad results, of course…) This course has been a real fight against the general indifference, the nepotism, the favouritism and against all the scum of the Italian Education system. I believe everything will remain, with the same speed this adventure had.
- Well, well, well, what did this experience mean to me? First of all the university profs are not all serious, they don’t forcedly wear a tie and talk or make questions in a serious jargon (obviously, within certain limits). Then it showed me that not always the Prof acts like he’s a cut above the students. Or rather, you can be peer to him without offending…
- We have to say that the organization of the course has been void of any ideology, but incredibly full of ideas. Can you understand the difference? I think the basic idea is what emerges in the concept of blog itself, of wiki pages and twitter: communication, sharing collaboration, elaboration. In my opinion, these are the four essential moments of social networking and, generally speaking, of any activity with success as an aim. Think about it for a while: almost all physiological aspects in the tissues- just to always refer to medicine- involve the communication between close cells, the exchange of metabolic and other specific cells, the collaboration for the elaboration of a product, a chemical reaction, the synthesis of materials. I think a lot of people have received and appreciated this social message, so that it has been a specific subject of our discussions in the university.
- Ok, the notes are always there to stress you, but in this case, a part from the always-recurring number on your university carnet, this exam will remain with us… It will be something made directly by us.
- another thing I appreciated, maybe among everything, is just the diversity of this course: I imagined only lessons on data processing, notes etc… Actually, what we had the chance to do are not the classical things which are common to all courses. These were unique activities that I think, unfortunately, we will never do again. They are unique but the beautiful aspect is that, notwithstanding this condition, they are very useful from a didactic point of view. Writing on my blog, reading others’ ones, discovering the functions of PubMed, Twitter, Google Docs, Google Maps, and much more, I’ve learnt a lot of things. More than I could do only studying a book.
- I think one of the pros of the course as it is actually organized is the operative and presentation of this concept: we had the chance to discover and not to memorize some procedures (which, as for the study of digital literacy in a faculty like medicines, is quite irrelevant). The only thing I personally find a bit inappropriate is the absence of the spirit of challenge: all the assignments should have been universally approachable, which made it necessary to emphasize the content rather than the computer(as a tool), but also as for this field, I would have preferred at least one optional track really engaging.
- And then… what can I add… dear Andreas, not so bad: you’ve read all our vicissitudes for 6 months, you know all our adresses thanks to Google Maps and all our maniac curiosities for illnesses thanks to pubmed… I think it hasn’t been so bad :-).
- This is the digital literacy course, as for my personal experience, which made me think constantly about some problems I had only superficially faced. Thanks to it, I appreciated more the University which was stifling me.
- There have been some things that struck and involved me a lot, one above the others: the I care seminar, which had as a consequence my decision to enter the clown group. The only thing of the course that I didn’t appreciate was the initial obsession of the Prof about the assignments….
I know that results have to be expressed in numbers in order to be as objective as possible, but I believe that they are not sufficient when humans activities are concerned. For instance, are we sure that it is possible to describe a mood only with numbers? And, if not, should we ignore the mood of students when talking about learning?
Anyway, we did also extensive polls and the following is one of the basic results.
I have to credit here
- Maria Grazia Fiore who followed with me the blogroom last year and helped me in organizing the very large amount of data at the end of the courses
- Emanuela Zibordi who analyzed the results of the polls
- Ilaria Montagni who provided the translation of the students voices
These people are all volunteers that have been involved by seeking connections on the net.