First of all, I am really excited about taking this course and learning more about the Technology that we can use not only for us personally but how we can bring it to the adult learning environment. I was also happy to see that Dave was using the Learning Contract for this course, as I am graduating with my CAE in June and working towards my BEd HRD, I have been in classes where learning contracts have been used and have had great success.
From my own experiences as an adult learner and working with other adult learners it is very apparent that adult learners have lives and are dealing with experiences that sometimes are more important in the moment than dealing with class deadlines. I can see how the learning contract in the adult learning environment would in turn be not only a benefit to the learner and instructor. For the learner it gives the opportunity to make up their own contract based on what they know they can give but also for instructor. For the instructor is can be a headache trying to deal with how to best be far to all learners in the classroom when it comes to marking and grades, with the learning contract set out in the beginning it gives the instructor the opportunity to put some of the responsibility onto the learners based on the criteria set by the program and instructor. It becomes a process rather than a set plan that maybe can’t be met by all leaners.
“Contract learning is, in essence, an alternative way of structuring a learning experience: It replaces a content plan with a process plan.” Malcolm S Knowles (1991, p.39). https://www.msu.edu/user/coddejos/contract.htm. As in all methods and strategies used in the classroom, we as instructors must have backup plans set in place when working with adult learners. I think one of the best up front plans is the “learning contract”. It’s a great way to add structure for those learners who want it and will follow through on meeting all criteria and flexibility for those learners who really need it based there life experiences or learning styles. It gives the learner the opportunity to strive for what they want and are able to give and get from the course.
As for Dave’s contract, I am pleased to see the breakdown of dates and what each requirement is worth in the learning contract, it allowed me as a learner to look at what I can give and what I can get out of the course based on my own life situation.
Frymier (1965), “Allowing students to decide which grade they wish to strive for, which activities they will engage in, and how they will demonstrate that they have satisfactorily completed their studies permits a teacher to seize upon powerful motivating forces within individual students. No one has to try for an “A.” Likewise, anyone can try. This notion shifts responsibility for learning from the teacher to the student, but at the same time offers an incentive by insuring success under known conditions. Students are challenged without being threatened. Students are almost never dissatisfied with grades, whatever they may be” (pp. 263, 264). https://www.msu.edu/user/coddejos/contract.htm.
Thanks Dave for the opportunity to STRIVE!!
This is a new spin on grading and being away from formal education fro 35 + years most of the different methods are all new. I look for what is required from each instructor and strive to do my best. I atte”mt to maintain that flexibility as grading process have changed frequently and according to the era. However, in reality when I look at continuing educatio especially later in life the old saying, “you will get out as much as you put in”. The contract system has some pluses and minuses, but to myself I will do the best I can to complete as much of the work as I am capable of and make the standard. Myself, as an instructor within police agencies I find that umbers or marks dod not always give you the best person. marks and numbers has it place but I believe in the whole package.
Technology has made graet improvements in educationand the work place and it is for this reason I am lookinf forward to the information and hands on learning component of this course.
So, I totally missed the first class and found out that we have to blog by Sunday at midnight. I could say that I missed class because of an illness, but that would be lying!! I was in Cuba, and it was great. The weather was lovely and hot all 7 days that we were there. We had some issues the first night when we arrived at the resort, but once all was sorted out it ended up being a great week. The resort was absolutely stunning, it was called the Iberostar Laguana Azul. This resort was a five star resort located in Varadero. The beach was beautiful, clean and there were lots of beach chairs. The water was fairly warm as well. We got to eat at 3 a la cartes at the resturant, Cuban, Italian and Japanese. The Japanese a la carte was the best, as you are seated around a grill and they cook your food right in front of you (I highly recommended this to everyone!!!). Also, during our trip we went on a catamaran tour for a day, and it was a ton of fun. I got to swim with dolphins which is the most amazing thing in the world. Dolphins have to be one of the smartest fish out there. We also got to go snorkling off of the coral reef which was pretty fun as well. I highly recommended this excursion to anyone heading to the Varadero area, as it is well worth the money. The best drink of the week at the resort was a “Banana Mama”- it was delicious. I added coconut rum instead of the regular white rum, and it gave it a fantastic flavour! All in all it was a great vacation. Good food, good drinks and lots of sun:):):)
Hopefully I am on track with this blogging business!!! I would have talked about school stuff and Wednesday nights class, however I was not there, so I blogged about my Vacation instead!
See you all this week
When I first heard this course would be evaluated by grading ‘contract’ I thought this is a great opportunity to do well. If a grading contract can evaluate enthusiasm, a desire to succeed along with the course content, then I will have a great mark. I am here to learn, this is a new subject and a new direction for me.
I also felt after our first class that it would be a great fit. We are all different ages, all different levels of technology and experience, and are in many different careers. It is not like we all just graduated high school with an expected level in this field.
But, I have concerns about it as it will be the first time I will be evaluated by this method. I also googled this term, and in the wikipedia definition it states that “the students have a say in the curriculum as well as how their grade is ultimately assessed”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contract_Grading. This is such a new world for me, I am not sure how much is too much or too little – I may not realize that my goals are much weaker than my colleagues.
But as I read your Overview, I realized that the contract will focus on my effort rather than on attempting to measure or quantify my learning – phew! That is comforting to know. So back to my first thought on enthusiasm and desire to succeed. I guess if I possess those 2 qualities, then my grade should be what I would call acceptable, as long as you do not judge how long it takes me to navigate through blogs, and find the appropriate links!
After reading your blog on Avoiding Resistance to Grading Contracts, I realize this will be the first time you have used this method. So I guess we are both new to this, as I am sure many others in the class too. I am really looking forward to new learning and new technologies for the adult learner!
The idea of a contract grading system seems to play well into the pedagoigcal approach of allowing adult learners a high level of control over their own learning in a classroom environment but I can’t help but feel that its only a slight variation of the more traditional grading scheme used by most education institutes in North America today. I personally enjoy the freedom of having optional assignments that while lowering your possible mark acheived from a “A” to a “B”, gives me the less to worry about at the end of a busy day with work and family. On a related note I am not sure if I will enjoy the “Satisfactory – Unsatisfactory” grading criteria for any assignment. A “Satisfactory” grade, its not something that a lot of people would say they strive for in academics or in any category related to their field of expertise. I would think that people like being told that their work is “good” and not “good enough”.
So did everyone else enjoy the first class? One of the biggest take-aways for me was the realization of how a class about technology can be conquered (at least briefly) by something as unassuming as log in problems. It really is unavoidable and its something I deal with every time I have a class of learners with me for the first time. All the more reason why its important to start slow and ramp up the content after all the kinks have been ironed out.
I also took the plunge and started a Twitter account which has finally allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of being able to know what LL Cool J is doing at any minute of a given day. I also follow @DaveCormier but he hasn’t wowed me with his rhyming ability. Yet.
If any of you other social media go-getters create a twitter account be sure to follow @ReganPaquet.
Since I left our class on Wednesday evening, I have been think about contract grading and what it is. When I first herd someone mention that they grade using a contract grading scheme he was talking about it in the context of someone who is unable to complete all requirements of the course but still want to gain the credit for the course. The teacher discussed how he entered into a grading contract which extended deadlines as well as relaxed some of the constraints of the course. Upon hearing I assumed that what a grading contract was an agreement between the teacher and learner stating what will be completed and when. The value of each assignment would be negotiated allowing more flexibility for the learner to concentrate on the things that he could accomplish given any complications.
Now for this class. We are entering into a learning contract for this class. For this contract we need to say what assignments we are planning to do to gain a mark that we are satisfied with. Where I get confused is that all assignments are given a mark where the only way to get 100 is to do all the assignments. The marks are not nogitiable and neither are the due dates. I feel that this is not any different from the standard grading system. Who is to stop me from saying that I will do all the assignments, but only do what I need to to gain a passing grade. Are there any reprocussions for not satisfying the contract. What if I only say that I will do only 80% of the assignments, but complete 95%. Is there encentives to go beyone the contract.
I must be missing something because as I understand it, this learning contract is no different then the standard grading scheme with the exception that it is called a grading contract.
Throughout my career I have participated and implemented different evaluation methods. Like other posts, I feel there is benefit as an adult learner to influence one’success through a grading contract. It is clear many individuals have other commitments and the contract allows the learner to commit to their own expectations. I beleive adult learners may challenge themselves as well as be “hard” on themselves when they have a contract grading system is in place.
I appreciate the course layout with respect to the attendance, and participation, the blog assignments, presentations, learning network plan, public contribution to knowledge, discussions and learning documents.
Although I have used various electronic client information systems as well as other computer applications, because of my profession I have avoided social networking. I do understand the value of information technology and look forward to exploring it further while protecting reinforcing the protection of identity. I look forward to learning with the class and instructor.
First time blogger,
This is my third course with the contract grading system. I think it is a good system for the adult learner; it allows that learner to decide on the areas that you want to concentrate on, besides the ones that are mandatory in this course.
The grading system for me allows for some flexibility in learning, I have a busy life with having a family, job, etc, so it makes it easier to fit education into my routine. I appreciate that you have made it clear about your expectations from us about attendance and participation. There will probably be at least one day I that will not be able to attend class because of work and/or other commitments. That said, I recognize that participation is an important part of the course because that is how you learn and it is also very important as an opportunity to hear input from your students as well as observing that they paying attention.
The weekly blog assignments are also a good learning tool for me. Unfortunately, technology and I do not mix well so spending additional time on the different areas of technology is only going to make me a better instructor in class. It also gives me, as a student, time to reflect on how much I have learned so far and to share ideas or questions with others.
I also like the presentations in front of the class/peers because it allows you the opportunity to try to new methods and ways to use the technology. I also like having the feedback on this as it can make you aware of areas you can improve on when presenting.
It would be nice to know a final mark on your assignments, rather than a pass or fail. This would provide greater insight into how much of that material I know. Overall I believe it is a good system that it allows you to decide as a adult learner on where you want to be.
The idea of contract grading is a new concept for me. It is a bit daunting and unclear as to what will constitute a passing grade, after all, passing the course is the main objective and anything above that is gravy. Mandatory assignments still count, but it is difficult to quantify what lies between satisfactory and excellent. Would one still strive to do the course to the best of one’s ability and be marked accordingly, or is there some punishment (lesser grade) if we overstate our abilities. I hope this will all become clear when we collorabate with our fellow students and professor to come up with our own contract. Not being in the teaching profession, I feel at some disadvantage as to how this would work in a classroom environment. My goal is to teach English as a Second Language, so maybe students would find it empowering to choose their own learning curve, rather than have it dictated to them. It seems to me that some Holland College courses use a similar approach in their learning/teaching processes. For myself, I will take this course a week at a time and try not to be overwhelmed by all the new concepts, such as, blogging as I’m doing now. It is quite amazing that before last class, I had no idea how to blog and here I am “blogging”.
This is my fourth (or fifth?) CAE course, and it is nice to walk into a room with so many familiar faces! It was also nice to recognize Dave from the YouTube video that he posted a few weeks ago. I could tell from the calendar (not the 7-10 PM part!) that we weren’t going to have a full schedule of 12, 3-hr class sessions, and therefore, I arrived on Wednesday, primed to have a lot of material covered in a shorter amount of time. Works for me! But then again, I feel moderately comfortable with technology, and my personal objectives for this course centered around learning new strategies for engaging learners via online media/content.
I think the blogging portion of this course is going to be interesting. I was just reading through some posts left by my classmates, and the hardest parts for me are going to be: 1) remembering to check our blog!; and 2) staying terse with my posts and comments. Case in point: I’m already at 166 words! Several of the recent posts expressed a mixture of interest and apprehension with regards to the Learning Contracts that we will be constructing next Wednesday. I too have mixed feelings about this: on the one hand, I appreciate Dave’s initiative in giving us control over our own learning. On the other hand, when I hear people bemoan the fact that everything is broken down into numbers, I think, isn’t that what we do for our own learners? In an ideal world, I would want my learners to want to learn everything, so that marks wouldn’t have to be given. You either pass, or you fail. Since one is driven to succeed, one would pass, and one would have learned a great deal by not having to “worry” about marks. As John (Arsenault) mentioned in his blog-post, we have seen something similar to this concept before, but structured in a different way. I will be curious to see how Dave’s format works in our group of adult learners.
And lastly: don’t forget how to log in to all of our various sites before next Wednesday! Log-in difficulties happen all the time, and I find it a rather humbling experience. This is how our own learners feel when they don’t get something correct the first time around…