During this past week I had my first Face-2-Face meeting with my professor and classmates from UNH's Technology,Learning/Assessment in the Digital Era course. It was also my first experience with what our professor referred o as a "Socratic Seminar". Seeing that I had never experienced a "Socratic Seminar" before, I decided to google it - of course! What I read was that it is basically a collaborative and intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text, and its the purpose is to achieve deeper understanding about the ideas and values in a text. I still wasn't sure what to expect but I had a better idea of what we were going to participate in.
Our readings for this particular seminar included data and statistics on teachers using technology at home and in their classrooms, a Pew Research Study. It was interesting to see the discrepancies between low income and high income findings regarding technology access, teacher experience with technology and training, and teacher and student use. We were exposed to additional data on Teaching Trends and Classroom Technology Trends, as well as ways in which Technology has changed learning and ways in which teachers are using technology. Lastly we viewed two videos, one was Tony Wagner's video "Reinventing Education for the 21st Century" about the new skills that ALL students need for work, learning and citizenship. The other video with Heidi Hayes Jacobs discussed our 19th Century teaching and learning that currently exists in a 21st Century world.
Questions from all of these resources served as the platform for our Socratic discussion. I was a little nervous at first being a member of the first group of us to discuss. And while we discussed, the remaining classmates and our professor observed and took notes on a pre-formed rubric that we were given. Once we got through the first question, it became more and more comfortable. After 3 questions we switched places and my group sat on the outskirts of the discussion while our classmates discussed some of the same questions. It was definitely tempting in the observation position to want to jump into the conversation and add to the rich discussion. Overall I believe we all acted respectfully and allowed the discussion to progress in the manner in which a Socratic Session is suppose to be carried out.
I really liked this forum of question and answering, especially with this group of people, as I beleive they have so much to offer in thier thoughts, experience and insights in educational technology. Furthermore I think this type of discussion has a place at my school during our morning vertical team meetings. It would be great to try with my co-workers.