James Piecowye thinking out loud

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Anatomy of My Best Class Ever!

Posted on | October 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Today I had my best teaching experience ever!

The class in question is COM311  a Zayed Media Lab practicum at Zayed University.

The class is worth 1 credit and asks students to bring together their cumulative experience to produce a project that is well outside their comfort zone.

This time around my students are engaging in grassroots audio producing content about Zayed University using their mobile phones and computers as their prime tools.

Blackberry,iPhone and Nokia phones were used this week to create short VOXPOP pieces.

Audacity was used as an editing tool.

This class is not about me teaching as much as it is about students taking what they know already and applying it to different situations and environments.

My role is to guide them through the challenges and motivate them to talk to one another to work through those challenges.

The irony is that in both the students and myself the teacher are learning as we engage in the process, a little like the blind leading the blind.

The goal of the class is not a grade but to get the attention of the university and produce a project that is beyond any expectation as well as new to the public face of the institution.

The real success of the ZML model is that the ownership of the project is with the student and not the teacher.

Today my students previewed an introductory activity that didn’t just meet expectations but exceeded them.

The assignment my students produced today, day 2 of the class was better than the audio projects other classes have taken a semester to produce!

What makes the class work?

1. the students know they are smart and talented, and not afraid to show and share their talent

2. these students realize the power of their mobile technology, they are not caught in the old school belief that you need studios and professional recorders to produce professional content

3. these students realize that what they put into the activity is what they will get out

4. respect, these students are treated with respect

5. the project is real, not hypothetical, it will be live both on campus and on Dubai radio

I have been teaching programs under the ZML model since 2003 and while every project is different they all are based on the 5 principles above.

The irony is ZML started as a rogue experiment and has become an activity that produces WOW projects through a combination of content, skills and ownership.


2 Responses to “Anatomy of My Best Class Ever!”

  1. James
    October 7th, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Matt what I find interesting is the process and how it is transferable to pretty much every class I have taught.

  2. Matt J. Duffy
    October 7th, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

    Nice work — can’t wait to hear what they came up with.

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