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CSESI 2008 Reflection

LuisanaT's picture
Overall, the institute functioned well in incorporating concepts of computer science to the participating teachers and adequately demonstrating various computer science skills that can be applicable for differing subjects. The weeklong program did well in introducing the participating teachers with non-conventional computer concepts and programs, giving them several tools to experiment with and potentially utilize to make a positive difference in their own classrooms. I would like to commend JD for voicing links between overlapping concepts in the different workshops and generating discussions between the teachers and want to suggest taking this one step further during the next institute.

But it is important to point out that there were certain parts throughout the workshops where a poor job was done connecting the teachers participating in the workshop to the work they were all doing. There was neither a sense of collaborative work nor an adequate level of comfort with the computers amongst the different teachers to maximize the learning experience. This change in collaboration both across disciplines and workshops can be well supplemented by creating an overall more transactional class.

For one area where the institute lacked was in the amount of time allotted for the teachers to reflect on their peer's contribution to the sessions. Whether in class or on Serendip, the participating teachers would further their learning and increase the amount of examples they can utilize in their perspective schools if given more time to exchange ideas with the other teachers. Although a good start at peer-peer educating, the web postings on Serendip should not have ended with Professor Grobstein’s workshop; the institute has potential of being more effective if a daily online posting requirement, which would also include constructively reflecting on other classmates posting, were implemented.

Another option that may be helpful in generating constructive conversations between the participating teachers would be by displaying a selected amount of posts made on Serendip regarding the workshop or the pre/surveys from the day before. Beginning the class this way will not only refresh everyone on the material just discussed but to place emphasis on some of the most interesting and benefiting information that is new to the entire class.

Another reason why the institute turned out to be a very independent learning experience was because some of the workshop teachers did not place enough emphasis on the reasons and explanations behind the different steps necessary to accomplish a set task on the computer. As a direct result, the teachers did not know what it was they were doing when they were giving the computer programs certain types of inputs. This, sadly enough, is very much like the traditional way education has been executed; the teacher would lecture the class, simply telling (not teaching) the students and giving them commands the students would immediately fulfill without question, and even worst, without interest.

This method of teaching delays a students, in this case, the participating teachers understanding of the relationships between the different concepts found in computer science. Instead, the participants of this workshop simply got the work done, and, if lucky enough, at another time comprehended the material well enough to integrate it into their classroom. Since these participants did not know what they were doing or why they were doing specific computing processing tasks, when it came down to attempting the same idea in a slightly different approach, they could not see the important patterns of this science and effectively manipulate the computer program. But because some aspects of the tasks performed were not isolated and to give their significance and particularity to the class, the participants could not consciously point out their own mistakes or, more importantly, creatively reinvent the same technique for their own classroom.

In hopes to stray away from that form of educating, the change in the "concluding activity" from another anonymous questionnaire to an independent project was a great way to replace conventional assessments. Giving the teachers the opportunity to come up with their own way to utilize everything/one thing they have learned from the institute to work on/with in the future as part of the last workshop is a very appropriate because of the reason JD himself mentions; there is always a lag period before the lessons learned here are put into practice or ever contemplated again, and so it is best to work with the material as much as possible, as soon as possible. There is much more to value in these presentations because the questionnaire would function simply to test the person's ability to regurgitate, while the presentations, because they are based on something(s) the participating teachers got out of the institute, would show what was effective and what was not and better assess the many efforts of the institute.