The View From 32


APRIL 19, 2007   More below: GROUP PROJECTS

They just don't make 'em like this anymore

View of the back of an old (1960?) FordDriving to school today I found myself behind this "historical vehicle"—the license plate verifies its status.

I used to pride myself on knowing cars, not only make and model, but year as well. But I'm stumped on this old Ford. Maybe early 60s? Not sure if it's a full size Ford or one of the smaller variations.

Look familiar to you?

-> Email me your best guess as to year & model.


Sound of ideas

That's a slogan that WCPN, Cleveland's public radio station uses. Pretty clever.

That phrase popped into my head during today's Web Publishing I class. The students were working in groups of two or three, planning redesigns of the websites of local businesses and organizations they'd chosen. It sounded like this:

As I hope you can tell, each group was enthusiastically talking over plans and ideas. It was exciting for me to listen to their energy. This is not always how it goes.

Students often dread group projects. The good students worry about having to pick up the slack for lazy classmates, and everyone worries about who will do what. I've been trying a different approach lately. I randomly assign students to groups of two, three or four, depending on the class. I have them start the planning/research/idea-generating part of the project together. This part is kind of fun to do with others, and I'm convinced leads to more & better ideas. But I then I give them the option to split up and actually finish the project as individuals. This seems to take some of the pressure off in terms of having to make the group "work."

In this class four of the five groups decided to continue working together, kind of amazing considering that because the class is a hybrid (one class meeting per week, the rest online) they have to make more of an effort to work together.

I first tried this approach in last semester's Media Design class. One student who'd announced how much he hated group projects told me afterwards that it was the best group experience he'd ever had. And when the entire class got together to talk about their progress, I think the group that had chosen to split up saw how the others working together had improved the final project by helping each other. They may have even been a little jealous.

When you have an experience like today's class you think "now this is what education should be." I only wish it happened more often.