November Provisions Session: Internships and Capstones

The November Provisions Session discussed the topic of internships and capstones, and the presenters provided information on the topic from three different departments at The College of Saint Rose.  The presenters included Jessica Loy, from the Art Department, Maureen Rotondi, from the Department of Social Work, and Marguerite Lodico, from the Educational Psychology Department.

First, Jessica Loy discussed internships in the Graphic Design Program.  Loy stated that most of the internships take place over the summer, and that the internships are a great experience for students for multiple reasons.  Aside from the obvious real world experience, Loy explained how these internships are what push the students out of Albany and out of their comfort zone so that they can gain confidence in themselves and their skills.  The experience helps students come to the *this is why I am doing this* realization, as well as finding out what they do and don’t like about certain jobs in their field.  According to Loy, the students go out to their internships as kids and come back as adults.  Luckily, for many Saint Rose students these internships turn into jobs.  Loy did remark, however, that the internships are very competitive.  Students must often compete against other students in other schools for their positions.  To conclude her presentation, Loy discussed what a senior thesis in the Graphic Design Program looks like.  She commented that the senior thesis project is what keeps students motivated in their senior year after they come back from the field.  Loy said that students are personally driven because they are doing work that they are passionate about.  The task is to solve an existing problem in the world, while designing something original, not merely redesigning something that is already out there.  Loy states that a major goal of the project is to pull in the students’ liberal arts education, a great way of tying in all of the learning that the students have done outside of their major’s required curriculum.  Overall, Loy states that the students feel closure in the presentation and the exhibition of their final projects, where they can self-reflect and see evidence of intellectual growth.

The second presenter, Maureen Rotondi, discussed the internship requirements of The College of Saint Rose’s Social Work Program.  At Saint Rose, students in the program are required to complete almost 600 hours of field work before they graduate.  In their junior year, students must complete 120 hours of an internship, and in their senior year, over the course of August to May, students must complete 400 hours of an internship.  As with the students in the Graphic Design Program, many of the students in the Social Work Program are able to obtain jobs at  their internships.  Rotondi was sure to mention that it is because of the great experiences that practices have with Saint Rose students that the practices continually help the program by taking new students on each year.  Rotondi even said that the Saint Rose students who graduate the program stay in touch and take on interns of their own. Students are observed and assessed with rubrics by their field instructors, and in addition are required to attend support meetings with their peers to discuss their experiences in the field.

Last but not least, Marguerite Lodico spoke about a fairly new program at Saint Rose, about three years old, that’s goal is to improve teacher quality through clinically rich experiences.  The program is a residency program in which Saint Rose works with Pine Hills Elementary School (Albany Central School District).  The objective of this residency program is to give students more time in the field prior to their student teaching experience.  In the opinion of those operating the program, along with many changing programs across the country, the NYSED two, seven-week student teaching placements are not enough.  The goals of the project include: one full academic year in the classroom as opposed to a single semester, allowing students to become immersed in school and classroom culture, develop relationships with collaborating teachers and students, to observe classroom practices and procedure, and to assume increasing levels of responsibility for student learning.  Ultimately, the students will gradually assume more responsibilities and the longer experience will serve as a soft launching pad for the student teachers.  Typically, students are selected at the end of their junior year for this program.  These students will volunteer in their placements during the fall, and then assume responsibility and teach in the spring.  The students will be supervised in the fall by the same supervisor who will work with them in their assessment in the spring.  Students are required to submit a log, as well as meet to debrief on their experiences.  Check out Marguerite’s PowerPoint here:  A Residency Program

Though they are members of very different fields, all presenters seemed to agree on one thing, their program’s requirements of internships for real world experience all visibly affect students in positive ways, not only maturing them, but giving them great jump starts toward future success.

Check back soon for an audio file of the presentation!

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Does Twitter Have a Place in the Classroom?

A recent post to the Wired Campus Blog titled “In Classroom Experiment, All Discussion Happened via Twitter,” Alisha Azvedo discusses Stephen Groening’s experience in his cellphone cultures class at George Mason University.  Groening’s course was designed to encourage students to think about cultural issues associated with cellphones.  For a Twitter discussion experiment, Groening set up three projectors to display the Twitter streams on the wall of the classroom, and the experiment was to tweet silently about the assigned reading.

To check out these student & social media statistics and to view a larger image, click on the infographic to view ASCD’s website.

There are many ways to use Twitter as a tool for education aside from Groening’s experiment, and although this tool has benefits, it has downsides as well.  Twitter can be used as a way for students to contact fellow classmates as well as their teacher.  One could argue that email provides the same function, and that you can write more in an email, but for students who are fluent in the Twitterverse, Twitter is a quick an easy way to stay connected and updated.  The contact outside of the classroom via Twitter could range from discussing class material to linking additional information and sources and a host of other affordances.  Class hashtags can not only organize information into easily identified topics, but provide a focused thread that classmates can visit as well, looking to see what their peers are finding interesting or having trouble with.  As far as the downsides to Twitter, there can be many.  For those students who already have Twitter, they may wish to keep their school and private life separate, resenting the fact that there is an educational desire to combine the two, viewing it as an encroachment on their personal space.  As mentioned before, Twitter only allows for 140 character posts, and the task of composing a substantial tweet with that restriction may prove to be difficult.  Lastly, not all students are Twitter-savy, and neither are teachers.

Azvedo quotes Groening on his first experience with Twitter:

  “I was super-nervous because to me, teaching means a lot of talking—giving a lecture or giving a discussion.  I was more scared for this class than I’ve been in years because the kinds of tasks that I associate with teaching I wasn’t able to do. I was worried that it would get out of control and either be very much off-topic or nobody would have anything to say.”

You have to commend Groening, who is trying new approaches to learning as well as modeling the changing role of the teacher from master to life-long learner, learning right alongside his students.  Twitter may not be a useful tool for all classrooms, but cannot be easily discounted when taking into consideration the learners of today.

Teachers Helping Teachers

Marc Perry’s post “The Real Revolution is Openness, Clay Shirky Tells Tech Leaders,” on Wired Campus Blog, discusses key points from Clay Shirky’s speech at this year’s Educause conference.  Perry describes Shirky as one of the country’s most prominent Internet thinkers, and notes that the big theme of Shirky’s talk was openness.

The term openness in the digital realm can mean one of many things, such as open access courses known as MOOC’s, open source formats for files that make them accessible with multiple programs, or openness in regards to interdisciplinary collaboration, the topic of October’s Provisions Session.

A memorable quote Perry pulls from Shirky’s speech was his advice offered to people interested in experimenting with openness: “Do not put together an interdisciplinary team from 12 departments and give them a budget of a quarter of a million dollars, and a year and a half deadline. Find five people and ask them what can you do in a month—for free. I think the results will surprise you.”

Shirky’s comment resonated with me; teachers helping teachers (learners helping learners), right?  Thinking about what Shirky said, I was brought back to an article I had recently read on pressconnects.com called “Teacher’s Helping Teachers… and making a profit,” by Donna Gordon Blankinship, subtitled “Entrepreneurial educators earn extra money by selling learning aids to colleagues.”  The article references sites like teacherspayteachers.com where teachers are making extra money “providing materials to their cash-strapped and time-limited colleagues.”  This may be teachers supporting other teachers, but it’s in reference to their income, bringing it back to Shirky’s comment above: what can be created together in a short amount of time and for free?  Are teachers wrong for trying to make a little extra money with their own ideas rather than turning to sites like sharemylesson.com, readwritethink.org, or a host of other sites where they can share their great ideas with their peers for free?