Which is better for studying children’s literature?
By Adjunct Professor, Kia McDaniel
The world of online classes can be a wonderful one, but it definitely isn’t everyone’s preferred method of learning. I teach EDU 526A: Children’s Literature, both face-to-face and online, and while they both have the same content, I’ve noticed that the students have very different experiences. This could be because of the different populations of students these classes attract or because of the format of each class and how material is presented.
In the online version of the class, students are responsible for securing their own books from the public library or bookstore when we explore different genres. In some cases, there are online versions of the books to access or even video presentations of a text. One of my favorites is How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids While this is an interactive reading of the text, with a little background music, it provides a different feel from just reading it to students. Of course I use technology in my face-to-face classes, but for different purposes.
When participating in the face-to-face version of Children’s Literature, students have the opportunity to explore various books that I bring in each week. Most of these are short texts that they can read in its entirety. With regards to technology, we use video cameras to capture “character interviews” or reactions in small groups and share them with the class to discuss our differing views and perceptions of events in the stories we read. Often times we use iPads to explore different ways that children respond to literature.
Regardless of whether the class is taken face-to-face or online, I have many students who access the electronic version of the one book that we all read — Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. There is always a mix of students with hard copies, kindles, iPads and nooks reading the same text. As the instructor, I have to be sure to share what chapters we are reading instead of the page numbers to make sure that we are all on the same page — literally! By the way, Wonder is one of the best books in contemporary children’s literature. Not only have my students (adult teachers) said that they will introduce it to the children they work with and those in their families, it has evoked a few tears and life changing conversation and reflection. Check out the Wonder book trailer.
One of the most interesting distinctions between the online and face-to-face classes is the final projects submitted. While both classes require an interactive presentation that displays the work of a notable children’s literature author, you would be amazed at the variety of final products presented in both class formats. The online classes yield live binders, video recordings and Prezi presentations, while the face- to-face classes have spoken word readings, modeled classroom activities and interactive book reports.
Do you have a different online learning style compared to your style when learning face-to-face? Regardless of one’s learning style, students are always excited to give their best effort and take the material learned back into their classrooms. Some chose to stick with their preferred method of learning if they are more traditional, or push themselves to access unchartered territory with technology. Either way, the result is the same — improved professional practice and experiences.