As the quarter seems to speed past, I wanted to take a moment to talk about what I'm doing this year and, hopefully, solicit some feedback. Teaching with Technology is a Graduate Interest Group at the University of Washington with which I have been involved for the last couple of years. We've done a lot of work that I'm really proud of, including a presentation on screen-capture platforms for teaching writing in active learning classrooms. It's also how I came to be affiliated with HASTAC. As the group continues to grow and evolve, we are pushing for more tangible and easily disseminated resources that focus on using technology to teach towards a variety of interdisciplinary skills. With that in mind, our goal for the year seems surprisingly simple: create a teaching archive.
On the surface, yes, an archive full of teaching materials, lesson plans, ideas, programs with instructions is great and fairly straightforward. Our particular interest, however, is not just amassing these artifacts; rather, we want this archive to be as function as possible for as many people as possible. This has led to a couple of ideas: 1. Organizing the archive by targeted skill/teaching goal (eg close reading; annotating; identifiying research source types). 2. Formatting material to be readily adaptable. In other words, not just cutting and pasting a lesson plan from a specific class, but sketching a more broad picture of what that lesson plan might look like across a variety of classrooms. The idea here is to make it easier for someone to take material from the archive and put it into action in their own classrooms without having to do too much of the translating work themselves. 3. Provide some sort of framing commentary for each artifact, a mini-review of sorts. For each lesson plan, software program, platform, etc, a brief paragraph in which a reviewer talks about what the tool is especially useful for as well as any caveats/things to be careful with. These caveats may be in regard to assumptions about students, time needed for optimal efficacy, and/or logistical issues.
Questions about which platforms would be best for this kind of archival work (espeically with regard to searchability) will need to be addressed, but probably not until we are a bit further along in the process of collecting materials in the first place. What seems most valuable right now is the utilty of the material. SO, what skills (micro or macro) would people most like to see in an archive of this nature? What kinds of materials would be most helpful? And, of course, what materials do you have that you would be interested in sharing? Our group is housed at the University of Washington, but we really want to reach a more global community of teachers from a variety of disciplines and classrooms. Bottom line: this is what I'm up to this year and I'd love to hear what people have to say/share!