April 2011

LRNT 505 is nearing its end, and the final assignment is due tomorrow. I think it has been an interesting course – different, but good. The ability to test drive your newly learned ideas within the course was something I really enjoyed. Mind you, seven weeks of seminars left me a bit cross-eyed!

But before that course ended, a new one began – INDS510. So I spent one week trying to jump between the two, but failing miserably.

But this is the start of my next adventure – the thesis (cue imposing music).

And I’m a little worried. Did I really sign up for this? Yes, I did. The major appeal is that I will now have a year to really focus on an area of interest. And I don’t mind writing, as this blog should attest to. But a thesis is definitely a step up from what I am used to. Sure, I did an undergraduate thesis for my Honours degree, but that was only a wimpy 85 pages on agrarian political movements in the American midwest in the 1860’s… this new thesis is definitely a whole new kettle of fish!

And I hope it’s not too smelly…


Okay, I just need to get this down on paper. My DH (dear husband/damn husband) showed me an app the other day that reads “tags” – they resemble some sort of black and white crazy maze. Apparently, you hold your phone up to one of these tags, and instantly you get a text message or are transferred to a website. Companies have started to use tags in advertising. Just yesterday I saw a tag on a magazine page advertising IUD’s…maybe technology and birth control are a good match.

So then my brain started working. How can I use tags to my benefit in a classroom? So here’s what I have so far…

1. Plot a scavenger hunt course around my school, incorporating all historical elements. Our school was started in 1912, but stopped because of WWI. And there are some local heroes from our school, like WWII flying ace William McKnight…

2. Plan the text messages that would appear when students located a tag, instructing them to go to their next location.

3. Ask students to load the tag-reading app on their smartphone or iPod touch, either at school using our pathetic wireless network, or at home.

4. Set up the tags – will have to figure out how to make them first, I guess!

5. On the day – which hopefully is the first day of our 2nd unit which looks at the darker side of nationalism (war, Hitler, Stalin, etc.) get students into groups of 3 or 4 so that each group has at least one mobile device.

6. Send them off one group at a time, and keep track of how long it takes them to complete the course. They will have to show me their mobile device so I can assure they received the text messages in the correct order.

How does this foster learning? Not sure it does. But it fosters enthusiasm. And I want these students to see that they are not so different from the students who left our school in 1940 to fight in the war. That it could have been them. I have an entire iMovie on McKnight that I presented two years ago on Remembrance Day – it’ll be great to show, as it has a real emotional focus. I think the purpose is to get students thinking about how nationalism affects lives drastically.

And it goes on. I could use the tags again when we head to the Military Museums here in Calgary (which are amazing, by the way. I was pleasantly surprised). I could use the tags to ask students to photograph something that was meaningful to them, or get them to text me back an answer to a question.

Hey…I could even put up a tag at Starbucks that sent them a text saying, “get back to class!” Except that Starbucks might not like that. So maybe I could put up a tag that send them the message, “Ms. Hone wants a caramel macchiato!”

Any thoughts? Concerns? Other inspirational ideas?