Unclass & the MAET program in Rouen



While we have done a very good job over the past few years of aligning our MAET curriculum across delivery formats – there are inevitably going to be differences between taking our MAET courses online, hybrid, or overseas.  One of those differences is “unclass.” Just like Google Engineers get 20% time to explore their passions and special projects, MAET students in Rouen are afforded a similar luxury (in our case 6 hours over 4 weeks.)  Since we meet in such a condensed and intense format (4 weeks, in the same living quarters) we’re able to work this into the curriculum.  It would be a bit of a challenge to do this in our online courses (since we’re spread across the globe) but I’m open to suggestions!

The idea started a few years ago in 2007 when we were in Plymouth, England.  One of the beauties of our program is that we mold the curriculum to fit our students – since we’re rooted in the TPACK model you do not have to have a certain level of technical expertise to join the MA in Educational Technology program.  Our students range from tech newbies to super users.  (Like, super duper users – i.e. our alum Paul who is a multitouch engineer!)   As a faculty, we were brainstorming ways to make sure all of our students walked away with meaninful experiences and I suggested experiementing with BarCamp. (The original  idea of BarCamp was born in 2005 as an open and free alternative to an annual invitation only tech event.)

There was quite a bit of confusion during our first BarCamp – after a week and a half of intense “edteching” to be let loose to explore and work on something without directon or scaffolding was quite a foreign and disorienting experience.  I absolutely loved the chaos (from an instructor’s perspective.) One thing we always have to work hard to do when students come to our program is to school them out of asking “What do you want?”  (Our Quickfire challenges were also created to target this same problem.)  We’re fighting against decades of schooling in a certain way where you ask a question and there is one right answer.  Teching with technology takes creativity, finesse, patience, ingenuity, skill,  flexibility and quick thinking. We try very hard as a program to provide opportunites to allow our students to fail and succeed so they can work on each of these qualities and go back to their own classrooms or work environments armed with experience.

It has been truly exciting to watch this concept has evolve over the past 4 years, and I can’t wait to see how UNCLASS 2011 pans out in Rouen.  This summer we’ll do a little more scaffolding and exploration into Google’s model along with great examples like Give Camp to see just how far we can push our collective passions and expertise!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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