Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET) Pepperdine University  
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Discussion of Third Book in Tapped In
  Learning Adventure #11

Assignment: How well-prepared do you think you and your classmates were for discussing "The Long Haul," "The 100 Languages of Children" or "Thinking in Jazz?" Was the comprehension and understanding up to the level of a Masters degree student?

Gary,
Personally, I feel I was quite prepared to discuss "Thinking in Jazz," as well as others in the class who had read that particular book. However, we didn't start to even discuss these books until 35 minutes into the hour-long class. In my opinion, too much time was wasted on other side conversations. This did not leave much time for proper discussion of the original task and trying to determine whether our classmates exhibited "comprehension and understanding of a Masters degree student" of one book let alone three was difficult if not impossible given the remaining time frame. In hindsight, it would have been best to do three session (one for each book). This would have provided a more relaxed environment in which to spend quality time discussing the books and our understanding of them. By the way, I don't think it is a fair question to ask of us, especially given the
above circumstances. I would have thought you'd have noticed by now, but none of us are comfortable discussing how well-prepared our classmates were or were not on any of the assignments.
Kathleen

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Kathleen,

It was obvious to me that you had read "Thinking in Jazz," thought about it and were prepared to discuss the book.

That said, I have been casting around for a diplomatic constructive way to discuss last night's book discussion. I already covered the issue of addressing the work of your peers in an earlier email. Again, this was an attempt for each student to engage in some self-reflection. It's worth noting that you the class has been providing feedback on each other's work all semester.

I spend a great deal of time and energy choosing texts you will love and want to read over and over again. The books also provide a theoretical framework for situating the Learning Adventures and challenge readers to imagine that "things not need be as they seem."

I apologize if the conversation ast night got sidetracked. I indicated already that I am imperfect as is Tapped-In. Even after more than a decade of teaching online, some sessions go better than others. I had plans written for the discussion, but needed to adjust.

My goal is to create a productive context for learning online as a model of what I would like to see in physical space. Keeping the course non-coercive is extremely important. This is why there is so much latitude in coursework and so little judgement, grading, ranking or sorting involved in this class.

Against this theoretical backdrop and despite more than a decade of teaching online I was disappointed by the the information shared by some students. The lack of preparation was clear.

It was obvious to me that some students were incapable of recalling even the most basic facts or definitions. This required me to try and coax answers out of members of the cadre in order to share anything of value with classmates who read a differen text. This reality curtailed discussion.

I am struggling against the impulse to ask students to write a paper demonstrating comprehension of the third book or give an exam, even if it remains my prerogative. This would not advance my goal of connecting powerful ideas across the three books in a collegial fashion and would violate the spirit of how the class has transpired to this point.

I hope that my thinking out-loud is helpful to you and your classmates.

All the best, Gary

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Thank you Gary for "thinking out-loud." I am not sure if it was helpful to the other members of the cadre, but it certainly was to me. I have to agree with you that giving a test or asking students to write a paper would indeed "violate the spirit of how the class has transpired to this point." I think your idea to discuss all three books in a Tapped In format might have worked better, had there been more structure and more time. Your goal "to create a productive context for learning online as a model of what I would like to see in physical space" was achieved. The course was well organized and challenging. The reading was truly important and did provide a theoretical framework for the course. The learning adventures were difficult, yet doable, and as they say in OMET lingo--hard fun. Thank you for taking the time and energy to give us your all.
Kathleen