Taking Advantage of the Web Site

One of the hallmarks of the On the Cutting Edge program has been the close integration of workshops and websites. This integration has two parts, using the website to prepare workshop participants for the workshop and using the workshop to generate new materials for the website. Our goal is to raise the quality of discussion at the workshop while producing resources that allow the broader community to reap the benefits of the workshop. In support of this goal, every workshop participant is required to create at least one page for the website.

Using the Website to Prepare for the Workshop

The website can be used to prepare participants by providing access to background information, introducing them to the work of other participants, or helping them articulate their thinking about a particular topic or teaching activity. Cutting Edge workshops have used the website to
  • Introduce an unfamiliar topic or build common understanding of a topic
  • Share thoughts about central aspects of the workshop topic
  • Participants in the Teaching About the Early Earth workshops were asked to identify an important question in teaching about this topic that they or their colleagues had difficulty answering or teaching and to begin to answer the question. The workshop presenters and participants then worked to provide answers and teaching ideas.
    Call for questions Answers
  • Participants in the Metacognition workshop were asked to write a short essay on metacognition to introduce their work and thinking on the topic of metacognition to other participants.
    Call for Essays Resulting Essays
  • Participants in the workshops addressing teaching a particular topic are frequently asked to share teaching activities or to describe courses that they teach. Examples from Teaching Introductory Geoscience:
  • Participants in the Affective Domain workshop were asked to write a short essay portraying a case study from their own teaching where the affective domain was relevant. Each essay describes the situation, actions the teacher took or solutions that were applied, and an analysis of how the affective domain played a role.
    Call for Essays Essay Collection
In each of these cases, the assignment serves a dual purpose of focusing participants thinking about central aspects of the workshop.
  • Prepare for exchange of ideas about specific teaching activities or courses.

Using the Workshop to Enhance the Website

The key to building the website content through the workshop is consider how writing products can be used to enhance learning prior to and during the workshop. For example
  • Describing activities and courses in advance of the workshop simultaneously causes participants to think through the alignment of their goals, methods and assessments, introduces their work to one another, and creates a collection of activities and courses for the larger community.
  • Similarly essays, focused questions, and other writing assignments can simultaneously focus participants thinking and produce a collection describing current thinking on a topic.
  • During the workshop, small group sessions can be designed to complete a web-based form or to create a specific product. If well designed to fit the objective of the session and the time available, these products simultaneously focus the groups discussion enabling a 'fast start' and produce a web-product that effectively summarizes their work. Examples:
  • Whole group or small group discussions can be managed to produce a list of conclusions that all participants agree to prior to the end of the session. In this way a publishable synthesis is created during the workshop. Examples: