Academic Technology Services blog
I saw this article this morning and thought it was interesting. What are things we’re doing because we’re used to them and not necessarily the best way of doing them? How can we move past nostalgia and into the present or even the future?
I’m not saying that all skills and methods used “long ago” are irrelevant, but Continue reading: Holding on
I think everyone wants to maximize the time they spend doing enjoyable things and minimize the time they spend doing drudgery.
Similarly, I think we’d all like to spend less time carrying assignments around, marking them up and handing them back to students, especially when not all the students get their papers back the first time around. minimize drudgery. David Sivers, founder of CD Baby, created a way to automatically send an email when a CD shipped to its purchaser. That was one less thing someone had to do.
James M. Lang reports on a book about dishonesty in the first part of a three articles on cheating on the Chronicle of Higher Ed. The article and book discuss findings on cheating.
An earlier article in the Chronicle discussed a MOOC that teaches students how to cheat. Of course, this is done so that participants can better learn how to prevent cheating. I think in many cases, exams should mirror tasks that would happen in the real world, where possible. We want students to learn how to research, analyze, and draw reasonable conclusions. Continue reading: Cheating Lessons, Part 1 – The Chronicle of Higher Education
Please check out a great web resources for GIS educators: http://www.teachgis.org/
“Teachers and learners of GIS, and related geo-technologies, want to increase the rewards while we lower the frustrations. This site, created by instructors and for instructors, is designed to support our educational community of practice.”
Resources, Discussions, and Blogs. This site is truly made by educators for educators who have struggled with the integration of GIS into the classroom. A great place to share ideas syllabuses, and data sets.
I recently dived into studying linear algebra, and was intrigued to read Robert Talbert’s post about the use of peer instruction in linear algebra classes. Talbert says that “Linear algebra is loaded with big ideas that all connect around a central question (whether or not a matrix is invertible). The computation is not the hard part of linear algebra — it’s forging a real understanding of the ideas and concepts in the subject and coming to terms with how they relate.” All of which makes linear algebra a perfect candidate for peer instruction, if your classroom response system allows answers other than the multiple choice questions. Talbert used the Learning Catalytics system developed by Eric Mazur, the father of peer instruction. Learning Catalytics is a web-based system that allows, among other things, students to submit drawings, click on and/or draw on pictures, and select multiple correct answers to a question. It was very popular with the students. He didn’t draw any conclusions about how the classroom response system improved student learning, if it did at all. But, he poses an interesting question at the end of the post. “One of the things I’m especially interested in seeing is whether questions that admit more constructive input on a question correlate with improved student learning compared to more static multiple choice questions on the same concept.” Sounds like a good candidate for a future research study.
Campus Technology’s Bridget McCrea recently wrote about several things a synchronous online teacher should and shouldn’t do, but the list applies to the use of technology in any class, I think.
One thing McCrea does not mention, that I’ve always wanted to have when I teach, is some kind of tech or assistant in the class to take care of things. One example of this is in the movie The Hunt for Red October when Jack Ryan has a yeoman who organizes and displays slides as he’s presenting (at a presentation he was asked to give as he walked into a meeting). Continue reading: Do’s and Don’ts of Classroom Technology Use
In what I think is an interesting first, one of CSU’s campuses will grant students credit for participating in, and passing a test on, the Introduction to Computer Science course offered through Udacity, as reported in the New York Times. In another turn of events more recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that Amherst rejected joining edX and San Jose State professors reject a Harvard professor’s MOOC. Additionally, Inside Higher Ed reports that Coursera actually generated some revenue (hat tip to EdTech Magazine).
I think all these developments are natural and wise actions. Learning can happen in many ways and so giving people credit for provable or verifiable learning, such as participation in a MOOC, should count, if applicable, in one’s degree program. Additionally, institutions must decide what their business is. Amherst and Colorado College are in the business of education on a personal scale, whereas MOOCs are about a large scale. Perhaps these will change someday, but until then, we’re going to continue to educate students on a more individual level. Continue reading: Credit for taking free, massive open online courses
I’ve been assisting or promoting blended learning since the 90′s! In one of my German lit classes (when I was a student), I recommended that we move part of the discussion online. My school had just implemented a new online discussion tool combined with a picture-based class roster. I learned about it and thought it would be cool if we used it in class. I recommended it to the teacher, who was happy to try something like that out. As we didn’t have wifi in the building and I didn’t have a laptop, I created a powerpoint that would mimic logging in to the system and posting to the discussion board.
The presentation went well and the system worked well enough, but the assignment due date was always “before class” which didn’t leave enough time for discussion online. Had it been due 24 hours before class started, it would have worked better. As I wasn’t the teacher and I was just a young college student at the time, that didn’t occur to me and the assignment remained less effective than it could have been.
Nonetheless, in 1998, I was thinking about blended learning!
In reading Robert Talbert’s blog post about a study that appears in the Journal of Engineering Education, I realized that answering this question really requires us to talk first about what problems the screencasts are meant to address. In the study he discusses, there were two types of screencasts: homework solution screencasts, where the professor worked out solutions to homework problems step by step, and screencasts that addressed a topic students indicated at the end of a class session that they had trouble understanding.
I suspect most of us, when we think about screencasts, think more about the former type – working through a problem step-by-step. Yet the idea of creating a just-in-time screencast to address a specific problem in understanding that the students themselves have identified intrigues me. It would be more challenging to develop, because it couldn’t be prepared ahead of time, but it might have a significant impact on student learning.
So what did the study find? The researchers reported that “students who use the screencasts more and perceive them to have increased their understanding of the course material actually demonstrate increased competence in terms of higher performance. This is particularly true for students seeing the concepts for the first time.”
Professor Steven Neshyba at the University of Puget Sound sent a warning to his students that they really needed to view the short videos before they came to class.
Mortified, Sam fired back, “Is that a general e-mail or is it just for me? Because if it’s just for me, I take great offense at the accusation.”