In our first session participants were asked to reflect on their own experience in school. We asked: what makes an assignment memorable, meaningful, and important? Participants recalled assignments which were interest-driven and inquiry led. Also mentioned were those activities which involved active participation, role playing, and movement. Assignments which involved the creation of artefacts such as video, audio, and art were identified as memorable as well. I reflected on my experience designing an eportfolio in my final year of undergraduate study. This is something I still look back upon from time to time today, and it is interesting to see my thinking at the time and growth since exposed in the work.

We then explored the idea of the disposable assignment. The idea appeared to resonate with most of our participants. The goal for the session was to consider the design of non-disposable assignments by getting students working on projects they might actually value, share/use in their own life, or add to their personal portfolio. I believe we may have to help our students understand and recognise their work as valuable and worth curating or sharing in some way. ePortfolios are one way do make this task of curation explicit, by having students reflect on the things they create, provide context, and present the work.

We had provided a number of readings before the session which many had reviewed. By extracting a number of visual models for considering non-disposable assignments, we tasked participants with engaging further with the concept. The models were printed out and participants were asked to determine which of these visual models is most useful in guiding us towards designing non-disposable assignments. Many found the Bass & Elmendorf (2009) model most useful, as the idea of engaging authentic audiences was of interest. Participants were split on the Hegarty (2015) and the Hendricks et al. (2017) models. No one identified the Wiley (2017) model as the most useful, although it was noted that the practices identified were significantly important for building resources ourselves and also useful for students to be aware of. This activity was useful in that allowed participants to dig deeper into the models, identifying the aspects of more open pedagogical approaches they found most intriguing which would be used to motivate their own redesign projects.

We then talked about some of the digital tools available which might support their redesign projects. Locally we have many tools available that can be used to design non-disposable assignments, and many of our case studies are built with these tools. WordPress is a popular choice for open-access publishing projects. VIU also provides VIUSpace which is a digital repository for sharing work online. We also talked about tools students could use to represent creative scholarship by building video projects or designing posters or graphics. Closed spaces, such as our LMS, were also discussed if the project required limited access. Although we really our encouraging the open access sharing of student work, these spaces can helpful for orienting, developing ideas, and preparing to share work more openly. We also spoke about tools available on the web for the design of non-disposable assignments, of which there are many. The challenge of using web based tools is ensuring students are aware and make informed choices about the data they provide when setting up accounts for these services and the data they provide when using them. This is not insurmountable, but requires an extra step and an excellent opportunity to talk to students about how they manage their personal identifiable information. Additionally, if using a web based service, faculty should be prepared to provide an alternative should a student not be willing to set up an account.

We provided an overview of the live reflection space (this site) and invited all participants to reflect freely, often, and openly. We are also hoping that sharing ideas between session will allow for our community to develop, by continuing to share thoughts, and engage in discussion through comments. We use a subscription plugin to alert the group of new posts on the site. This site also leaves a resource for future participants to see what was done and build upon those ideas. We also are happy to share the design and details of the resign institute with the broader community through this site.

We closed with a  group discussion on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of this approach. Many participants already had ideas for their assignment design taking shape, while others were still determining how to formulate their project.

Slides from our meeting in the first session are available below.


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