UC 2.0: The Hothouse Rocks!

Today I met with the UC Hothouse crew to report on my progress for the Winter Term. I arrived 1/2 hour early to finally use the room set aside for us. After teaching from 8:30am to 3:30pm without a break, I spent the time listening to Scheherazade on my old iPod Shuffle while responding to student emails on my new Netbook. I was surprised to learn how quickly time has passed this semester with just over a week left to go for the semester, and now only two weeks for us to use the Hothouse room.

The trial with the University of Canberra College using my Web 2.0 techniques is proving to be a real winner with students with English as a second language (ESL). On sabbatical last year in Jordan, I really got to know what it was like to be a foreign ‘student’ and Google Translator and other tools became firm friends. On returning to the UC College fold, I decided to change my attitude toward ESL students and now students are providing me with links to the tools they are using - typically tools peculiar to particular languages.

Not everyone will agree with the approaches to teaching I am using (see the video in the coming weeks!). But the simple fact is that using traditional teaching methods, my ESL students sat stupefied as my head talked at them in the classroom. At the end of a class, nobody could correctly answer a single question asked of them. Now, it is rare that I get vacant faces when I ask questions - indeed the converse is true.

What is obvious is that the days of the talking head at the front of the tutorial class are limited - and for me the computer lab is the place where learning is ramped up to warp factor.

Next week, Leonard Low of the Hothouse crew will be producing a video record of my approach to teaching ESL students. I still need to collect detailed feedback from students but the informal feedback I have been receiving from numerous students and peers has been mind-blowing. My gut feeling is that the system I was using in Jordan works as a teaching method with a class of about 90 students. Nonetheless, the method is resource intensive, requiring computer labs for every face-to-face contact period except the 2 hour lecture.

My biggest fear is how I will be able to replicate the results I have achieved in the computer lab in a fully online unit. To be honest it is stressing me no end as the numbers for the new Winter Term are approaching 80 students and rising. What makes the difference is knowing that the Hothouse crew are behind us the whole way. After today’s meeting, I am noticeably less stressed. Whether that is the result of the meeting or that 1/2 hour of chilling out this afternoon I am not sure, but either way it is attributable to the Hothouse!