Post Conference Reflections

I was away for four days of classes last week but I left work for my #TC101 #TC1019 and #TC2027 classes. They shouldn’t miss my presence in front of the room since I’m not the focus of the class. Some of those students embrace that fact but some are still reaching to grok what I mean by this student-centred and flipped (in the sense of flipping roles) classroom.

I know, it is difficult, it is messy, but as my good friend (now I actually met her in person) Laura Gogia says it right on the title of her blog “Messy Thinking“. I was able to rename this blog to “Connecting is Learning” through her influence and that of many other amazing educators at (and not at but present through the wonders of Virtually Connecting) #OpenEd16 in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Students are People

The #OpenEd conference started off with a bang at the keynote of Gardner Campbell (@GardnerCampbell)  (btw he say’s he truly loved your post Fredele (@fredelesenties), you can read the excellent notes of the talk from David Kernohan (@dkernohan).  Our good friend Robin DeRosa (@actualham) provides us with a Periscope of that keynote. What collaboration and sharing in this community.

There were so many instances of this message at the conference and happening after the conference. Check out the meta archive of #OpenEd16 resources which document this. I would like to draw attention to this section from a post by Sundi Richard (@sundilu). If you are paying attention, Sundi also contributed to our #iTecGDA Digital Identity workshop for #SemanaI.

Captured from a post by Sundi Richards at
Captured from a post by Sundi Richards at

Rescuing the Semester

We always hear it in the hallways and the classrooms and social media. Thanks to Kimberly for reminding me of this last night (well, I saw it as I woke up). I met Kimberly during our #iTecGDA workshop and she is an amazing thinker, student and young woman. I can be very sure she’ll be just fine at the end of the semester.

Yes, you all probably need to bear down and get through these last two weeks. I sincerely hope that in my courses where I give you the flexibility to work at your own pace instead of “drip feeding” content that you are not in panic mode in my classes. Yes, I am sure some of you are and that learning experience is valuable.

Which brings me to the next topic since amid your last minute panic mode (or not) of the semester’s end we should be releasing the online evaluations of your teachers.

Teaching Evaluations

There are many publications and scientific articles pointing out that teaching evaluations are not an effective measure of teaching quality. I agree but I want to give you my side of the story. Despite not agreeing with the design of some of the questions (in particular “Would you recommend taking this course with this teacher to your friends” which is paraphrased), I am a big believer in giving students a voice. So here is your chance to voice your opinions. Please leave comments and please give the exercise some serious thought. I read every single comment and look at the numbers trying to glean something from them to improve my practice and more importantly the relationship I have with you my students.

Some of you will rant about “Ken doesn’t teach us stuff” and that is true. That is a conscious decision in my pedagogical practice.  There is a difficulty in navigating a pedagogy of abundance (great blog post about this that I just started reading) where I don’t *want* to give you “the material” and even less deliver it to you. My role is to be an expert in the field of our course content and guide you through the discovery and learning. That puts more of an active role and responsibility on you the student and I realize that is difficult. But we’ll learn together. Remember, learning is a messy process.

I’ll invite you to go read that blog post I wrote last May after those teaching evaluations. I am particularly proud of the feature image and title “Teaching Evaluation Comments: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.

flickr photo by Cayusa shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license
flickr photo by Cayusa shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

I will leave you from the video embedded inside that post. Paola (@paopgv) is a digital animation student who was thrown in with the engineering students that semester for our CS1 style course (#TC101). She embraced this method, spent time discussing her understanding of the material with me in class and in my office, she really did grok what learning is about.

Your Turn

flickr photo by English106 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by English106 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Feel free to drop your comments below, I really would like to hear from you.




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