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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Teaching and Learning with Blooms

I could not think on my feet on which point to focus at the beginning of reflection, and have been pondering over the assignments I did, the texts I read, the discussions I enjoyed for days. It appeared to me that writing a reflection on academic learning is quite a challenging job. It is personal, and not personal simultaneously. I need to record my personal attitudes and experiences which must appear to others meaningful, organized, suggestive, and significant. However, reflection on MIDT experiences and applications takes me back to Penang Workshop (IDRC-PANdora) when I became familiar with e-learning, and became aware of the fact that organized, well directed, focused, involved learning lead a learner to be an expert learner and gradually an educator. I remember Prof David and Prof Abtar involving us in creative exercises. In fact my experience at the Penang Workshop was substantiated by a week long Virtual Interactive Class (VIC) that Dr Yousuf (another MIDT student) had conducted. On attending the workshop I learnt to prepare student-engaging lecture scripts. Let me clarify a bit more. As VIC appeared and still seems to me a cluster of academic lessons concentrating on creative pedagogy, potential creative learners are hooked in original thinking and gradually are led to authentic English language production. Here I interpret the word ‘authentic’ in connection with producing sentences, and compositions on their own effort which is not influenced by rote learning that throughout their student career is tagged with them.

My admission in MIDT programme has opened for me a window of incredibly big and fabulously rich world of educational science and arts as well for which I convey my profound thankfulness to my Creator. MIDT shaped my previous knowledge and experiences. For example I was guided to think critically about lower order thinking (LOT) skills and higher order thinking (HOT) skills while preparing Prof Dunning’s
assignment on Bloom’s taxonomy. Benjamin S. Bloom’s extensively contemplative classification of thinking levels is now acting upon me as an indispensible formula for teaching-learning. Now I engage learners with a methodical consciousness, dig out learners’ previous learning ignited by a sense of strong zeal for advanced learning through critical and creative thinking. I am feeling tempted to add an activity from my ELT class at the undergraduate level, which I have chosen for my capstone project. ELT course aims to prepare future teachers of English, who are to create a syllabus, and teach the language in the secondary level classes, with Bengali medium background. Rather than directly starting with the theories, I started the course with extracting learners’ ideas on ‘how best one can learn English?’

Learners were required to write key words only on that question on green cards, stick the cards on a white board, and organized cards of similar ideas in one column, with a title for each column and then produce a draft syllabus on poster papers. Student artifacts were uploaded in the Wiki I am using for my research. The cards required students’ previous learning and experiences to recall(LOT); whereas the posters reflect students’ creative imagination, and synthesis of previous learning and practical experiences (HOT). Once the proposed syllabus were presented before the class, the whole class commented, analysed, and evaluated other group’s proposals (HOT) []. Before studying Bloom and preparing Prof Dunning’s assignment, I never consciously thought of engaging students in different level of activities that assist them to emerge as autonomous and creative learners. Students who participated actively in the activities are now confident, enthusiastic, and feel that they are the owners of the whole system of learning. On taking proctored final examination on ELT, I asked them about how much you copied in the examination. The replies boosted me up, “In such an engaging course, we don’t need to copy.”

Now I’d like to share my experience with Bachelor of English Language Teaching (BELT) programme conducted by Bangladesh Open University in distance mode. The students get tutorial assistance twice a month face to face. For the rest of the period, learners are left alone with the textbooks only. They take the examinations with whatever they memorized from the book. Now with Prof Dunning’s guidance through ‘Design and Development of Interactive E learning’ course I am planning a Wiki for BELT program where learners will be able to clarify their problems, interact with peers and students, and gradually develop creative ability in learning and teaching. Involvement and interaction have tremendous impact on learning & creating learning environment that lead to a sense of profound achievement.

While I look back and assess my previous teaching technique I find a dramatic change in it. A table comparing my past and present teaching methodology would focus the change:

[Double click to enlarge the table]

In the table I contemplated on six aspects of teaching, i) delivery mechanism ii) class Managementnt iii) teacher-student relationship iv) student-student relationship v) use of tools and vi) examination.

My past teaching started directly with texts. e.g., while teaching ELT before, I directly focused the theories, explained, wrote main points on board. The process was lecture based & text based. I couldn’t manage class. Felt disturbed with weak students. Strong students followed lectures and felt superior. There was no collaboration and communication between learners and teachers. The only tool used in class was white board. In the examination students produced memorized and copied answers.

My present teaching starts with brain storming, previous knowledge, & guessing. Now I start ELT classes with student’s ideas about 'how we can learn English', let them create their own syllabus, then lead them to theories which is usually done in groups/pairs. Classes are Student-centered. Students present their syllabus on ESL. Now I’m confident and know how to engage in learning even the weakest of students. Collaboration & cooperation between S-S work fantastic. Wonderful team work. Weak students feel safe that they have friends and supports for their progress. They communicate & share. They’re never exhausted even in a lengthy class, Computer, e-mail, power points, Wiki, internet resources , mobile phone, SMS, are used as learning tools. No copying or memorised production in examination. They understand, analyse, synthesize, create genuine answers in examinations.

Prof Dunning was one of the two facilitators on the course HMDD 5603 Design and Development of Interactive e-learning in the 3rd semester of MIDT programme. Along with the 1st assignment of Prof Dunning, I thought the 2nd Assignment should be included as it further elaborates Bloom's taxonomy in connection with learning objects.

The purpose of adding these two assignments are that I got them directly connected with my learning and professional experiences. All MIDT students, general learners, instructional designers are target audience for the artifacts. Dunning himself gave a detailed view on learning objects, learning styles, and Bloom's order. I want my classmates to share their ways of applying the learning objects in the blog. The impact of these courses on my professional life is enormous as I have explained above in my reflection for the 1st Assignment of Prof. Dunning.