It's Not Work When It's Fun

Friday, October 14, 2016

Time Melts Away

I'm going to end up spending a lot of time on my learning activities in Module 6 but it's not because I have to, it's because I want to.  It really isn't work when it's fun!  The farther I get into this class, the more interesting and enjoyable the experience is.  Yeah, I struggled with the previous learning assignment a bit, but that seems ages ago as I'm completely consumed with the latest assignments.  Wow. 

The Week in Review

I finished my Module 4 assignment on Monday in order to prepare for the new module content that became unlocked on Tuesday.  I talked about this quite a bit in The Great Module Unlock earlier in the week so I won't rehash it here.

After cruising through Module 5, I got right into Module 6 and completed all the video lectures and the reading so that I'll have over two weeks to work on the next two learning assignments and class discussion.  I'm glad I did.  I'm going to end up spending a considerable amount of time on these learning activities because they're just so interesting.  Dare I even say, exciting?

Both learning activities are centered on developing a contextual history for a particular book in the New Testament.  They're mini research projects.  I've been asked to prepare two printable handouts detailing the historical background of the book by considering both the author and the audience.  I've been amazed at how much I've been learning during this assignment.

The other wild thing about these assignments is that we've been asked to be creative in preparing our work.  So it's also been wicked fun to fire up Gimp and PowerPoint to start pulling some graphics together for these pitches.  It's not often that you have the freedom and flexibility to be creative in school assignments at this level, so I'm going to take full advantage of it.

We've been asked to limit the length of our presentations to the equivalent of 5 MS Word document pages.  I honestly think the this is going to be the biggest challenge for me for this assignment.  I've already got about that much loaded into my Xmind map and I'm only about a third into my research.  Like I said, learning a lot!

What Did I Learn?

I learned two very important and encouraging things this week.  First, the process by which you approach researching a historical context is very logical and intuitive.  Second, what you end up learning is truly special.

I've always spent some time during my studies or while preparing to teach to investigate the context of the passages I was working on.  I have always considered this vitally important to ensure an accurate understanding of the material - ie. exegesis.  I think the coolest thing is that my own personal approach to Scripture was validated by my course teaching.  It is always a great feeling to discover that you were doing something right all along without formal instruction.  Yay me!

That's not to say that I didn't learn anything in class this week.  What I found was, while my personal approach always centered on the author and audience to prepare to review a text, I tended to combine the two which I always felt was a little tricky at times.  In class, I learned to separate the author and the audience and perform a separate review on each.  That caused everything to fall into place neatly and led to a bit of a 'well duh' moment.  But that is what I'm here for.

My pastor always said, "The teacher always ends up benefiting more from the lesson than the audience."  This couldn't be truer.  In the process of studying to present a passage, there will always be far more uncovered and learned than you would ever be able to present to an audience.  It's a special experience for sure.  The struggle is always limiting your focus on a specific point with a reasonable amount of material.    

Lessons Learned and Best Practices

One big lesson learned this week.  While I really appreciate Dr. Bailey's presentation of the course material in the videos, he speaks a little slower than I'm used to.  When you are faced with a three hour slate of videos, that can be a little daunting to get through while staying focused.  Besides, I usually read along with the transcript that is provided on this platform so I'm always getting ahead of the lecture.  What to do about that?

Well, in the DTS online platform, you have the option of controlling the playback speed of the video.  In the latest series of videos, I experimented with setting the playback speed to 1.25x and 1.50x normal speed.  What a difference that made!

1.50x speed wasn't enough to turn Dr. Bailey into a chipmunk, but it was a little fast if you were just listening.  However, given that I also read along, it worked out great.  1.25x is definitely still comfortable if you would just be listening.  I found that I was able to stay much more focused on the material being presented which also helps with my retention.  Being able to both hear and read at the same time is definitely helpful as 1.5x (for this class) is about my normal reading speed anyway.

The only minor downside to this approach is that it makes note taking a little more challenging.  I did have to pause the video a couple of times to record some thoughts because while my download speed might be 1.5x, my upload speed to my notes is about 0.25x.  But I can tell you that I'll use this little trick for the remainder of this course and I'll probably use it in my future courses as well.  

BE101 Statistics

Here's how things look through 7 weeks.  It's interesting to me at this point how the assignment weights are lining up with the time investments.  Even though I'll end up spending a lot of time on Module 3, I'm very comfortable with my time commitment to date.

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