- Here's an experiment: say you have a class that for some reason is mostly lecture, and in the eleventh week (which we could call the "week 11 slump," because anyone who's ever stood in front of a class knows that's what it is) you tell the students they'll be part of an exciting experiment about learning, and you let the postdocs take over and give them all kinds of cool interactive tools. For one week. The students who have practiced on these tools perk up and do better with their week's learning than a control group. Would you then conclude that "Postdocs Can Be Trained to Be More Effective than Senior Instructors"? You wouldn't? What kind of scientist are you, anyway?
- Kim Brooks, at Salon, wants something different to happen with high school English so that her first-year comp students can write better. I think she wants fewer hands-on assignments that ask students to make videos about how Hester Prynne would act today and a few more assignments that focus on making sure that students can write a sentence that has (1) a subject, (2) a verb, and (3) a clear point.
- But if you go to USC, you might get to keep making videos instead of writing papers. For the record: making videos can be a valid pedagogical choice, of course, and students can come up with some very sophisticated visual arguments. But sooner or later students are going to have to write something, aren't they? A cover letter? An email? A report? Do geologists (one of the examples) get to turn in a video assessing the prospects for drilling for oil in a particular region, or do they have to write a report? I'm guessing the latter.
- According to the Chronicle, Stanford med students, who were issued iPads last fall, demanded paper notes or books instead of reading their required books on the device, although they found the iPad useful for sketching and taking notes in lectures: "But when Stanford's School of Medicine lent iPads to all new students last August, a curious thing happened: Many didn't like using them in class. Officials had hoped to stop printing an annual average of 3,700 pages of course materials per medical student, encouraging them to use digital materials instead. Some students rebelled, and Stanford was forced to resume offering printed notes to those who wanted them. In most classes, half the students had stopped using their iPads only a few weeks into the term."
- At least no one's requiring that Atlas Shrugged be taught lest money should be withheld from the school. Oh, wait: "A separate grant from BB&T funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is required reading. The novel, which depicts society's collapse in the wake of government encroachment on free enterprise, was recently made into a movie marketed to tea party members."
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Random links about technology and teaching
Take these with a grain of salt and my standard disclaimers: I like technology and think it has valid uses in the classroom, hands-on learning can be useful, and all the rest.