Reflecting on Our EdCafe

Posted on May 30, 2013 by

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I definitely enjoy the EdCafe style of learning, more than I expected to. It reminded me of maybe a college class where everyone discusses a topic in an open conversation and one person just is the expert on that topic. I also really enjoyed going to other peoples’ EdCafe’s because I liked seeing different ways of presenting and thinking about information. We all had the same assignment but got to approach it and present our research however we wanted. One of the best things about the EdCafe was how passionate people were about their topics, and how that passion made the discussions really engaging. I loved being able to share my knowledge on a topic I cared about with my classmates, and hearing their questions and opinions on it!

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From the EdCafe experience I learned that ‘informal’ is kind of a dangerous word for me because I felt like I was too relaxed about the presentation, although the EdCafe definitely helped get rid of the nervousness of presenting, which was great for me. I didn’t do a whole lot to prepare for my discussion, so at points I felt like I could have had an answer ready quicker or more questions to get the ideas flowing if I had done just a little more prep. One of the things I found helpful for good discussions was drawing on peoples’ personal experiences; asking them, “Have you ever heard of this? What do you think about it? Do you have any experience with it?” I really liked it when the presenters had some visual or audio material to go along with their presentation; like for mine I got feedback that people liked the fiddle music from Appalachia I found. But, one of the best sessions I went to didn’t have any visuals and was interesting more because of the ideas we talked about. The presenter had strong opinions about a Native American problem he’d researched and we raised some pretty big questions that got us all thinking. As a participant of the EdCafes I think I both learned a lot and contributed a lot to the discussions. I tried to ask lots of questions–simple, factual ones as well as ones that connected to the larger picture/deeper meaning. Overall, I’d say I was engaged.

One thing people who came to my session said was they could tell I was really knowledgeable about my topic and that my knowledge came through in my presentation, so that was good to hear. I think I did a good job of involving the people in my group, both when I was presenting and when I was a participant, to make it more of a conversation than a lecture. I realized that I often have trouble clearly articulating ideas that make sense in my head so other people can understand them. Sometimes I over complicate the words I’m using and sometimes I don’t explain the idea thoroughly enough, so that is something I’d like to work on. Some feedback I got was to be more confident, which I can see, as I’m sometimes shy to speak up in a group of my peers. I also got feedback to relate my knowledge on the subject to the bigger picture more clearly. Some people were confused as to how Scotch-Irish immigration to Appalachia connected to the project’s question.

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Image: ‘Reflection’ photo from Flickr by Mikko Saari in 2011

Reflections

 

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