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Extending our learning community beyond the classroom with technology

August 21, 2011

A long running goal of mine has been to help my students see the physics in the world that is all around them. I do have students coming up to me from time to time sharing a story with me about how they thought about physics while driving to school, or wanting to show me some cool article they found somewhere. I love this, but I want more, and in particular, I want them to become thoughtful observers of the world around them, and I want them to start to share their observation with each other.

My adventures with twitter and blogging have shown me that technological tools can do a lot to enable the kind of community I’m trying to create. I’ve also been inspired by Chris Ludwig’s recent post on creating a Student Designed Physics course (I would love to try this sometime). And I thought that if I’m not ready to turn everything over in my class to student design, I could let students design how we will interact outside of class. And so I’m working on developing a 3 part activity where we will discuss how we will communicate and collaborate, how we will give feedback to each other, and how we will grade, and in each case I’m going to try to allow for as much student feedback as possible.

Here is the handout for the first discussion, how we will communicate. This is also inspired by Terie Engelbrecht’s post today, It’s Not about Us, it’s about them, where she debunks the idea of digital natives and discusses the need to have students learn to use some real web 2.0 tools.

View this document on Scribd

The idea is that students will spend some time testing out these tools and then give some feedback to me about how we might use them in class, and then we will decide together which ones to really use as a class.

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