August 18, 2014, 9:30 am
This week at my university, like a lot of other universities and colleges in the US we are making the transition into the new academic year. It’s the end of the summer. I’m sad that the break is ending but I’m very happy with what I was able to get done. For the first time in years, I didn’t teach a summer class. Instead, I spent a lot of time on the road, speaking and giving workshops in places ranging from my own university to North Carolina, Indiana, and Cardiff, Wales – even Paris, via prerecorded video. I’ve dug into Haskell, object-oriented Python, and category theory. I indulged in a lot of the “someday/maybe” items I’ve been squirreling away. And I managed to spend a ton of time with the kids, hitting the beach, going on hikes, hanging around the house playing Mario Kart, or whatever the day and the mood called for. I didn’t waste a lot of time, and that’s…
August 12, 2014, 12:22 pm
One of my Twitter people asked me to share my thoughts on yesterday’s Chronicle article, “Can Universities Use Data to Fix What Ails the Lecture?” At the time, I skimmed the article and replied that LectureTools, the technological tool developed by Perry Samson to gather real-time data from students during a lecture, reminded me of the contraption you see in the photo to your left. That’s an automated chalkboard eraser. As technology goes, it’s quite effective in what it does. Just look at how clean that board is! Which is great but… that’s a chalkboard for goodness’ sake. A piece of communications technology that is not significantly different than prehistoric cave drawing, and which has been improved upon countless times. (Purists who still cling to chalkboards: You guys are Luddites. Sorry.) Strapping an awesome piece of technology to a chalkboard doesn’t make the …
June 28, 2014, 9:57 am
On Twitter this week, someone sent out a link to this survey from the NCTM asking users to submit their ideas for “grand challenges” for mathematics education in the coming years. I forget the precise definition and parameters for a “grand challenge” and I can’t go back to the beginning of the survey now that I’ve completed it, but the gist is that a grand challenge should be “extremely difficult but doable”, should make a positive impact on a large group of mathematics students, and should be grounded in sound pedagogical research.
To that list of parameters, I added that the result of any grand challenge should include a set of free, open-source materials or freely-available research studies that anyone can obtain and use without having to subscribe to a journal, belong to a particular institution, or use a particular brand of published curricula. In other words, one…
June 13, 2014, 2:40 pm
This article, “The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom”, written by Dan Rockmore for The New Yorker, has been getting considerable airtime on social media this week. As a classroom instructor I can certainly attest to the power of technology to distract and interfere with student learning. But I had three issues with the “case” being made.
1. Because the headline focuses on banning laptops from the classroom, it’s easy to miss this very important point made in the article:
These examples [of how learning is negatively affected by the presence of technology] can be seen as the progeny of an ill-conceived union of twenty-first-century tools (computers, tablets, smartphones) with nineteenth-century modalities (lectures). I’m not discussing the “flipped classroom,” wherein lectures are accessed outside of class on digital devices and the classroom is used as a…
June 5, 2014, 8:00 pm
I have been spending this week at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina as a plenary speaker and instructional faculty at the Teaching and Learning Institute of the Appalachian College Association. This is the second year in a row I’ve been at the TLI as a plenary speaker and staff member, and I’m honored to have been asked back, and it’s been a great week. I’ll have more to say about the TLI in upcoming posts.
For now, though, I wanted to share another thing I did this week, which was to give a talk to the faculty at Ecole Centrale Paris, one of the foremost technical universities in France on the flipped classroom. I was able to be in two places at the same time because the talk to ECP was given via pre-recorded video. That talk was given at the same time as my plenary talk at Lenoir-Rhyne, in fact! Is there a prize for this?
The talk was titled, “Four Things I…
May 19, 2014, 12:25 pm
Right now I’m preparing for a talk I’m giving next month, in which I’ll be speaking on using technology to connect students, faculty and institutions to the fundamentally human activities of learning and growth. Of those three groups – students, faculty, and institutions – I’m finding it to be a lot easier to talk about students and faculty and their relationship to technology than it is to talk about institutions. I’m wondering: Why is that?
After all, people are messy – we are a combination of social backgrounds, economic statuses, geography, past learning experiences, attitudes, preconceptions and more. When we advocate for the “use of technology” in learning, this phrase has to take all of these aspects of each person involved into account. That’s what makes the “use of technology” hard – and it explains why simplistic applications of technology in…
May 16, 2014, 9:46 am
To continue the blog post series I’ve been doing (installments one, two, and three) that addresses skepticisms about flipped learning, I wanted to dip into something other than my own comment sections, and go to a general class of skepticisms I’ve heard when I do workshops. Those skepticisms involve technology. Specifically, although I’ve never heard a single formulation of this skepticism, there are two ways it can occur:
- I’m skeptical about the flipped classroom because implementing it requires technology, and not all students have access to the technology they need.
- I’m skeptical about the flipped classroom because implementing it requires technology, and I (the instructor) don’t have the time/inclination/skill to learn what I need.
As I’ll explain, I think it’s possible these are legitimate concerns, but they’re easily dealt with in a number of ways.
April 30, 2014, 12:49 pm
We’re currently looking at points of skepticism about flipped learning and the flipped classroom. In the last post, we discussed the issue of students objecting to the flipped classroom because it is nothing more than having students teach themselves the subject. My response to that was that flipped learning should never look like the instructor simply giving students reading to do and walking away; like any effective pedagogy, it should involve a partnership between student and instructor that focuses on crucial learning experiences in class, which under the flipped model is wide open for such experiences.
Here’s another point of skepticism brought up in an earlier discussion about flipped learning, and it’s related to the first one. As with last time, I am quoting directly from one of the comments on an even earlier post:
I work at a community college. Many students are there…