ObservationsRegularly recorded observations provide brief snapshots of students' activities and development over time. Each observation includes three main parts:
1. The date
2. The activity
3. A brief description of what is observed. This can be in the form of notes, rather than complete sentences. It should be clear from the observation whether the activity involves the student alone, with a partner or small group, with the teacher, or with the class as a whole. The activity observed might be in class or outside of class, in the lab, library, or anywhere else:
1/25/96 Platinum Blood. I found the reading to be a little strange since I am not used to reading stories like this, but found it to be interesting. I could focus on what I wanted to read and skip through other parts. My attention was actually focused on the story because of the hypertext format.
Observations are confined to what is actually observed, without additional interpretation or evaluation. One observation taken alone may seem insignificant. However, a series of such observations taken over time provides important information about students' development that supplements the student's written "products" as evidence of learning. It is important to provide enough observations to give readers a good understanding of development over time. They are particularly helpful in documenting aspects of learning not easily accounted for by conventional methods of grading or assessment, such as the development of collaborative skills, increased independence, reflectiveness, and so on. They are also useful for documenting activities not well represented in final "products"--an experiment that missed the mark, a disk crash that wiped out days of work, a change in thinking about a topic. The observations below were taken from a variety of students.
Typical observation of reading and research activity:
2/20/96 Reflections of Nielson--I reached one of my goals when I read Nielson. I found out the history of the Internet and hypertext. I also realized that I have been exposed to hypertext for a long time with out knowing what it truly was and its capabilities.
Typical observations of rhetorical activity:
2/22/95 I feel that after creating the project 1 final, I found using the hypertext easier to understand. When writing the draft, I found it confusing trying to fit the information into the boxes and linking them. After working with the final draft I finally understood the concept and found it easy. I have also noticed with this second project that now I can find more to say when writing a paper.
4/11/96 Today our groups had to turn in our topic proposals for project 4. Since project 4 was an open topic, we decided to create a men's magazine. We figured we could make our project and have some fun in the process.
Typical observations of collaborative activity:
3/4/96 Project #3 Proposal--Brainstorming with T. helped spark my interests and imagination. We bounced questions off each other which helped us form our MOO and Web theme. Her questions really helped me formulate my ideas.
February 22, 1996 I thought I knew Storyspace well...then we were told to write a process account! I'm glad that this project (2) is in pairs, becaue there are still many features of Storyspace that I don't feel proficient enough to explain. I hope that my process is coherent. We are going to work on a format of organization to hopefully help us out in that area...through headings and screenshot examples. Also, I thought about adding a question and answer section at the end. I feel that I a little less intimidated by the whole hypertext concept, but there is still a little uneasiness. I hope that by working with K. we can fill in the gaps in each other's knowledge.
Typical observations of technological activity:
2/6/96 Interchange--Interchange taught me how to speak more specific about a topic instead of using gross overgeneralizations. It did this by forcing me to type what I was thinking. Even though I was having a conversation on interchange it was very different from actually speaking.
March 22, 1996 I learnt how to copy holding the (options+apple) key down
2/22/96 MOOspace--Visiting the MOO opened my mind. At first, I felt lost because everything was happening so fast. I wanted to respond to people but I couldn't type fast enough or I would forget the command. After exploring and getting a feel for the MOO I gained more confidence. Being in the MOO really invoked a deep feeling I have had for technology for a long time--skepticism. This whole other sense of reality intrigues me but for some unknown reason I can't seem to fully emerse myself. I must fear losing my true sense of reality - it is such a fine line. I wonder how many people have already crossed it because of technology like MOOs. Everyone has their form of escapism but with some technology like MOOs this escape can become a true reality. Like you say, these worlds aren't virtual...they are real.