Doomed?

“I thought that I was doomed at first, but now I realize that I can possibly do okay in this course.” A student in an introductory course on interpersonal communication wrote this during an early check-in of a class I taught one winter session. Were students in the writing course I’m teaching now feeling “doomed” on our second wiki day? It was definitely worse than the first (read the student critique). My brain is churning over alternative configurations to improve the flow of wiki days. Hopefully, the amount of activity in the wiki – despite a few technical glitches (of both the inevitable and inept kind, sigh) – demonstrates that most students are getting the hang of it. I trust that those who are still struggling will persevere.
Next wiki day, I’ll try divvying the students up into small groups and rotate them among the various tasks. For Day 4, I tried to take us through each activity chronologically and simultaneously, like one usually does in a face-to-face setting. Some students, for instance, lost posts to the online brainstorm “Compar[ing] what you learned about a classmate from the oral interview and what you learned about about another classmate from an analysis of their writing” and therefore had to repost them later. Most students are still learning the syntax (the commands) that tell the wiki what to do with each bit of writing. It took only a few minutes for everyone to be in their own bubble of struggle. Different people reacted differently: one student exclaimed,

We’re not used to thinking!
We’ve always been told, do this, go here, follow these steps, do that.”

Another admitted, “I’m too lazy to think.” (I know she didn’t mean it.)
Reading their work, however, provides plenty of evidence that they are thinking quite a bit. ­čÖé I felt both that the day was stressful (a bit of storming) and that we got through it intact. Kudos to us all for doing our part!

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