Friday, February 20, 2009

VLE TBL

On the train from Nottingham to Home.

The preparations for the course have been completed despite the fact that almost everyone, DoS and “Project Manager” included, has been teaching a lot this week. It culminated in a final meeting when the two other teachers and myself were given lanyards and essentially told not to let the side down by “PM”. At least she’d managed to get the photocopying done.

Another last minute hitch was that she’d baulked at copying my nine page grammar test. So we’re to go with BTM’s own test. I didn’t put up too much of a fight on that because I could see the practical objections – one page against nine. And I’ve got my own speaking test, which is approved of if not fully understood.

Another battle has been going on all week over the hours. They have contracted for no less than 40 contact hours per week, which is going it some. And, when one of the teachers pointed out that getting from Bedfordshire to the East Midlands on the M1, on a Friday evening is quite an undertaking, I’d reshuffled the hours to give us a 2pm finish on Fridays at the expense of 7pm finishes during the rest of the working week. I had something of a row with Big Cheese over this on Wednesday – she pored over the timetable and shook her head like a person with Parkinson’s. And she’s still digging her heels in and insisting on 4pm finishes on Fridays. We shall see how it goes when we get there, and when next Friday bowls around.

I’ve managed to avoid telling “PM” and Big Cheese from shoving it up their ample arses because I can feel a seriously good research project coming out of all of this. In fact, I’m bothering to blog my hassles with BTM to that end. I’m not sure yet, of course, how things will work out, but I’ve got some ideas for the research.

Firstly, it will be interesting to see how an avowed TBL course works out, in this relatively sealed environment. Also, I’m trying to pull together free internet sources (Google mail, Blogspot and Wetpaint) into an ad hoc VLE. Put these together with my experience with this loony management and a critical pedagogical analysis thereof and voila!

See, TBL, if done intelligently, can be 100% communicative and, from a CP point of view, avoids the need for expensive but boring and impersonal commercial texts, (though this course will use one). And the ad hoc VLE avoids getting stiffed for one from some educational software bastard in a suit. AND having to fight with the management to get anything done is instructive too. I’d never imagined that designing a course like this would involve so much numpty hand-holding and explaining and pacifying. But that’s the way of it: courses don’t get designed and students don’t get taught in political vacuums.

Now, the next big job, an entrance questionnaire…