I’m Not Doing it For You

I’ve learned something about myself this semester. I’ve learned I’m ok with letting things go. It all started around something I call either Post of the Week or Moment of the Week depending on which class of mine you’re in.

The idea behind POW/MOW is simple. As a student, you sign up on the calendar for a slot. When your date comes, you identify a blog post written by another student in the class that you think is interesting (for whatever reason) that you would like to discuss further. You also identify a post from someone who is not a member of the class. Doing so helps expose us to new blogs and ideas.

Now, both these classes are hybrids. What this means is that 50% of the class meets F2F and 50% is online. When doing these POW/MOW things, we do some in person, and we do some online.

The F2F version is pretty standard. You lead a discussion (usually 20-30 minutes in length) around whatever posts you want to highlight. The author of one of the selected posts is usually present, so that person can always provide us with more insight about what they wrote.

I sometimes worry threaded discussions look like this.
I sometimes worry threaded discussions look like this.

The online version requires students to create a video. I’ve asked them to keep it at 5 minutes. They still present the posts but they post it to our class site. People are expected to engaged in a threaded discussion throughout the week.

I have concerns with how well threaded discussions work, but that’s for another time. For now, what I want to focus on is the creation of these videos for POW/MOW. Because I’ve noticed something….

In one of my classes all the slots got filled up. I just checked and realized that one slot is now vacant, but my guess is that someone realized she didn’t need the XP and decided not to do that job. That’s OK. That is also something we can talk about later.

In my other class, getting the video slots to fill up appears to be difficult. I just checked our wiki, and I have three slots open for POW, and each of those is an online slot. All the F2F slots are taken.

Personally, I’d do the video. I think it’s a lot less work, but to each their own.

Recently, I was updating the wiki for this particular class and writing out an overview for our upcoming week which was online. In the section for POW I noted that we had no one scheduled to do it and, if that remained the case, then POW would not run. When POW runs during an online week, students who do not make the video still get XP for participating in the discussion. No video means no opportunity for XP. If you make the video, you get XP for making the video. If you then participate in your own discussion I give you additional XP for that as well (some people make the video and then call it a day).

In the end, I had a student jump in and make a video. However, I recently just did another update where I wrote the same thing for our upcoming online week. I noted that if anyone wanted to lead a second POW they could. We are pretty far into the semester at this point. If you haven’t signed up by now I am ok with someone else taking an empty spot.

Anyways, at this point I realized something about myself: I am ok if no one signs up for POW/MOW.

Seriously. I am ok with it.

Related: Examining the Points Based Grading System

If it’s an online week, and no one signs up, then we won’t have it. Yes, the thought occurred to me that I could make a video. But I did that already. I did the first one to serve as an example and get the party started. I did my part with that. If a class of students decided (even though it’s not an official, collective decision) that there will be no POW/MOW, then so be it.

I thought that perhaps if it were an in person week I might lead a discussion, but I have also decided against that (all my F2F sessions have people signed up to lead them, but I thought about if I would be more likely to do it just the same).

Here’s the thing, this particular quest was designed to foster discussions around work created by students in the class as well as people outside the class. An important aspect of this quest is being able to identify what you think we should look at closer. If an important aspect was to discuss what thought was important and should be looked at closer, then I should be making all the selections every week. But that’s not what we do here. This is how I got to my decision to not intervene and force a discussion should no one step up to lead one.

If people don’t care or want to put their energies into other quests – for whatever reason – then we all just live with the outcome. I’ve created an experience here that, as a student, you choose to engage in or not. I am going to be ok if the decision is not to engage. If we go a week or more without a POW discussion, then that is going to be part of your experience as a student in this class.

This is our class. Remember that. It’s not my class. I set the ball in motion, and then we craft it together.

One Year Ago Today



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