The Community of Educational Technology Support works to improve teaching and learning on campus through networking, collaboration, sharing expertise and resources, and advocacy.
The ComETS Cornerstones help guide conversations and community activities:
- Emerging Trends
- Professional Development
- Advocacy, Leadership and Engagement
- Networking and Collaboration
Recent blog posts
Here are a few thoughts to develop my thinking on backwards design for students: 1) Identify Examples; 2) Deconstruct them; 3) Collaborate and iterate towards them.
One of the best ways that I learn is by taking apart good examples. It's a cliche stereotype perhaps, but as a boy, I destroyed the wind up alarm clock that I got for Christmas one year because I wanted to understand what made it tick. For my birthday, a few months later my folks, to their great credit, got me a Clock Kit (similar to pictured). I destroyed that too, but at least I was able to reassemble it (with my dad's help first, then eventually by myself).
I really didn't learn this until graduate school (or at least didn't recognize it as a good methodology for learning). Basically, the idea is to start by critiquing examples — good and bad — in a group, then letting the group take it apart and talk about what works and what doesn't work. Then, just as I learned HTML, you steal what works and tweaks what doesn't work, with your own content.
More and more though, I'm seeing great value in starting with examples, or even templates that the learner(s) has vetted. That's how I'd start with Identifying Examples, and Deconstructing Them.
The next bit that I'd push is iterating towards (and beyond) that vision collaboratively, where learners regularly share out with other groups (I tend to like groupwork) where they're at and where they're going, in order to get feedback and steal ideas from each other. This way they're continually challenging each other, and learning from each other. With the clock, it was me and dad, and the end vision was just getting it together — no improvement. Also, it was a set unit. I never made it better than it was designed to be, but I learned enough about gears and springs that I was able to use them in other contexts. For groups of learners not bonded as parent-child, and less rigidly-defined end-states, it gets trickier.
This sometimes requires that the learners are primed to understand that everyone has different skills, and all are valid. For example, I'm not great at coming up with ideas, but I am excellent at revising ideas, and at combining/applying ideas and metaphors from diverse fields for the topic at hand. I need the idea person to come up with the initial idea, and I need the detail-oriented manager-types to make sure that all the pieces are in place. Working together, our final product ends up much much better than it would if we worked independently.
The "backwards" part of this is the openness and collaborative nature of it. So often traditional schooling is focused on getting everyone to the same place rather than developing the personal and unique innate skills and interests of students that they will bring to groups for the rest of their lives. Along the way, by the way, they all tend to learn more about each other's aspects of whatever the project, just as adults learn about different things by participating in group projects with other experts.
John Thomson recently sent me this article, on Blended Learning environments: Using Social networking sites to enhance the first year experience, by Joshua McCarthy, and asked about my experiences integrating Facebook in the class I'm teaching this Fall.
If you don't want to read the article, here's an excerpt from the discussion to contextualize:
The benefits of the blended learning spaces included face to face discussions: "the assessment allowed us to converse with others in class and form connections that developed into friendships", a factor that came up time and time again within the student cohort: "the best thing about the Facebook galleries was that they got everyone talking from day one - all of sudden I had all these new friends on Facebook and from there had friends in class." Many students also noted a stronger link between design theory and practice...
This is worth reading. Especially points #5, 7, 8, and 9.
Thanks to the ComETS Steering Group for drafting goals and objectives for the coming school year. ComETS members, please review and share feedback to help us shape the goals in the months ahead.
Goals and Objectives for ComETS
- ComETS serves as an opportunity to develop Educational Technology Leaders - be more intentional.
- Reframe ComETS Advocacy as "Leadership and Engagement".
- Create a ComETS version of "The Horizon Report" through events and conversations.
- Highlight ComETS members and encourage all to update Profiles.
- Re-canvas for new members and provide mentorship. Attention to member life cycle, paths for ComETS, and easy in / easy out.
- Design ComETS events as opportunities for conversations, and as incubator spaces for new ideas to emerge.
- Offer informal and irresistible social events with topics shared.
- Emphasize links between ComETS Cornerstones which help guide conversations about what we would like to accomplish.
- Emerging Trends (identifying, understanding, analyzing and sharing)
- Professional Development (across the ComETS community of practice)
- Advocacy, Leadership and Engagement (promoting, supporting, encouraging, sharing, and suggesting)
- Networking and Collaboration (sharing, partnering, problem-solving, learning from each other)
- Emerging Trends (identifying, understanding, analyzing and sharing)
We welcome and value your feedback, and look forward to a great year for ComETS.
The Moodle Council is supportive of the College of Engineering (CoE) moving forward with the creation of the UW-Madison Moodle service. The scope of this new service is to initially serve timetables classes and a long term goal to include continuing education courses with the intention to provide some level of services as soon as possible. CoE is forming a Launch Team to help initiate the new service. The Launch Team is meant to be a temporary body to help get the service up and running quickly. For the long term, CoE is asking the Moodle Council's help in forming a permanent advisory body for the service. Rob Kohlhepp and Deb Helman have asked Phil Barak, Eric Alborn, Mike Pitterle, and Bruno Browning to be members of the Launch Team. Also, Mike Litzkow has been named as the UW-Madison Moodle service Coordinator.
Adopted June 2012 by unanimous vote of the Council.
Monday, December 9 - 8:30am - 4:00pm
Thursday, December 12 - 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Monday, December 16 - 11:30am - 1:00pm
Find resources for Education Innovation initiatives
- Tips and resources on the Education Innovation website
- Resources and policies on the Teaching and Learning Excellence website
- First points of contact for assistance in the schools and colleges
Still have questions? Contact email@example.com.