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Author Topic: Supersizing the College Classroom  (Read 18929 times)
present_mirth
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2012, 4:06:22 PM »

I'm also curious--how much overall time does this take? Does he have other classes?

His web site lists a few other courses that he's taught recently, so I guess he does.  (I see that even if this were his only course, he'd be getting paid a whopping $17.99 per student, based on the enrollment figures in the article.)

Props to the man for making the best of a nearly untenable teaching situation, but I am SO glad I didn't go to Virginia Tech.
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larryc
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2012, 4:07:57 PM »

Do not neglect to purchase your Plaid Avenger merchandise: http://plaidavenger.com/merch/
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johnr
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« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2012, 4:22:37 PM »

Every public university may not have a Boyer teaching 3000 students, but they sure as hell have a load of classes with enrollments of 200 - 500 students, and I bet that a lot of those big classes aren't being taught by tenured, or tenure track professors. Most tenured professors don't want to teach those kind of classes. So I ask, if those big classes are so bad, and the learning outcomes are so poor that most tenure track professors avoid teaching them, why do they allow them to be taught at all (I can answer that question if you want me to)? Here, at least, we have a guy who is making a real go at teaching a large-lecture format class (whether it be 200 or 2000 students enrolled). It's probably a damn sight better than most.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 4:23:39 PM by johnr » Logged
canadatourismguy
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« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2012, 4:44:46 PM »

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
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treehugger1
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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2012, 3:16:28 PM »

Do not neglect to purchase your Plaid Avenger merchandise: http://plaidavenger.com/merch/

Is this for real?
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larryc
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« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2012, 4:28:39 PM »

Do not neglect to purchase your Plaid Avenger merchandise: http://plaidavenger.com/merch/

Is this for real?

Oh yes.

I tweeted back and forth a bit with Boyer and he sent me a link to this piece he wrote about the class: http://thejohnboyer.com/new-education/ A link to the syllabus: http://thejohnboyer.com/new-education/

Boyer taught the class with 2 TAs and one tech support person.

Whatever we think of this approach, it is certainly a part of our future. Today as every day in the academic year, a couple of hundred of my fellow historians are delivering nearly identical History 110 lectures in nearly identical cinder block classrooms across the country. I am not on the semester system anymore but I will bet the main topic today is Reconstruction. A handful of these lectures are brilliant and engaging, a substantial minority are pedantic and dull, most are competent. But how do we justify the massive inefficiency of this 19th-century model, particularly when each of those classrooms is equipped with a computer, camera, and internet connection?

The digital revolution has arrived, hand-in-hand with the permanent budget crisis in education. We are facing future changes as significant as what has happened to newspapers and music companies and other information providers. Right now the water is full of sharks and fraudsters and bullsh*t "futurists" but that does not mean that the wave is not upon us.

I don't know exactly how the future of higher ed will shake out, but I do know it will have a lot fewer professors.
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marigolds
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« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2012, 4:32:24 PM »

Do not neglect to purchase your Plaid Avenger merchandise: http://plaidavenger.com/merch/

Is this for real?

Oh yes.

I tweeted back and forth a bit with Boyer and he sent me a link to this piece he wrote about the class: http://thejohnboyer.com/new-education/ A link to the syllabus: http://thejohnboyer.com/new-education/

Boyer taught the class with 2 TAs and one tech support person.

Whatever we think of this approach, it is certainly a part of our future. Today as every day in the academic year, a couple of hundred of my fellow historians are delivering nearly identical History 110 lectures in nearly identical cinder block classrooms across the country. I am not on the semester system anymore but I will bet the main topic today is Reconstruction. A handful of these lectures are brilliant and engaging, a substantial minority are pedantic and dull, most are competent. But how do we justify the massive inefficiency of this 19th-century model, particularly when each of those classrooms is equipped with a computer, camera, and internet connection?

The digital revolution has arrived, hand-in-hand with the permanent budget crisis in education. We are facing future changes as significant as what has happened to newspapers and music companies and other information providers. Right now the water is full of sharks and fraudsters and bullsh*t "futurists" but that does not mean that the wave is not upon us.

I don't know exactly how the future of higher ed will shake out, but I do know it will have a lot fewer professors.

Yep.

This is more the kind of thing I was expecting you to say on this thread, Larry.
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larryc
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« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2012, 4:49:31 PM »

I have to say, I read the article and looked at Boyer's syllabus and my first thought is I could do that.

My administration is going to have to cut me, and my department, a hell of a deal, however.
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marigolds
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« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2012, 4:52:17 PM »

I have to say, I read the article and looked at Boyer's syllabus and my first thought is I could do that.

My administration is going to have to cut me, and my department, a hell of a deal, however.

Seriously. 

It's so hard to balance the competing possibilities of technology and access on the one hand, and of fiscal exploitation and profiteering on the other.  (Do more with less my ass.)
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larryc
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« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2012, 5:06:22 PM »

See, I am OK with profiteering--so long as the students are not being exploited, and os long as I get a generous share of the profits.

Clear thinking about this matter begins with a realistic assessment of how much (or how little!) typical students learn in a required 100-level core class that is not a part of their major. The truth has always been damn little. When I teach the 110 class I don't actually have a list of 100 facts I hope for them to master and remember forever. My goal is to teach them to love history and to nurture a lifelong interest in the subject. If I can do that, they will retain a fair number of facts (though there is no telling which!) but more importantly they will continue to learn the subject after they have passed in the final exam.

I think I could do this in Boyers model--a huge class, yes, but tons of shiny objects from Twitter to important guests to podcasts and movie nights. Set up a buffet table of historical learning, let the students choose their entrees, and test them on those. Why the hell not?

But am I going to bust my hump to give my administration $3 million bucks in free tuition so they can lay off my colleagues? Not if I have a choice--which so far, I do.
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shastymcnasty
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« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2012, 12:39:40 PM »

Whatever we think of this approach, it is certainly a part of our future. Today as every day in the academic year, a couple of hundred of my fellow historians are delivering nearly identical History 110 lectures in nearly identical cinder block classrooms across the country. I am not on the semester system anymore but I will bet the main topic today is Reconstruction. A handful of these lectures are brilliant and engaging, a substantial minority are pedantic and dull, most are competent. But how do we justify the massive inefficiency of this 19th-century model, particularly when each of those classrooms is equipped with a computer, camera, and internet connection?

The problem is not the model but the format.  Why simply lecture, lecture, lecture?  Why not discuss, debate, analyze, present, work in groups, even role-play?  There are ways to get students engaged besides twitter and youtube.
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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2012, 12:56:39 PM »

Whatever we think of this approach, it is certainly a part of our future. Today as every day in the academic year, a couple of hundred of my fellow historians are delivering nearly identical History 110 lectures in nearly identical cinder block classrooms across the country. I am not on the semester system anymore but I will bet the main topic today is Reconstruction. A handful of these lectures are brilliant and engaging, a substantial minority are pedantic and dull, most are competent. But how do we justify the massive inefficiency of this 19th-century model, particularly when each of those classrooms is equipped with a computer, camera, and internet connection?

The problem is not the model but the format.  Why simply lecture, lecture, lecture?  Why not discuss, debate, analyze, present, work in groups, even role-play?  There are ways to get students engaged besides twitter and youtube.
And this can all be done in large groups. I attended a conference in which a presenter showed video and photos of her class of 500 students doing group work, presentations, and whole-class discussions in a STEM field. It can be done. Probably not by me, but it can be done.
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larryc
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« Reply #27 on: May 03, 2012, 1:43:08 PM »

Whatever we think of this approach, it is certainly a part of our future. Today as every day in the academic year, a couple of hundred of my fellow historians are delivering nearly identical History 110 lectures in nearly identical cinder block classrooms across the country. I am not on the semester system anymore but I will bet the main topic today is Reconstruction. A handful of these lectures are brilliant and engaging, a substantial minority are pedantic and dull, most are competent. But how do we justify the massive inefficiency of this 19th-century model, particularly when each of those classrooms is equipped with a computer, camera, and internet connection?

The problem is not the model but the format.  Why simply lecture, lecture, lecture?  Why not discuss, debate, analyze, present, work in groups, even role-play?  There are ways to get students engaged besides twitter and youtube.

Oh definitely. And in truth I hardly lecture these days.
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polly_mer
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« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2012, 5:48:11 PM »

Whatever we think of this approach, it is certainly a part of our future. Today as every day in the academic year, a couple of hundred of my fellow historians are delivering nearly identical History 110 lectures in nearly identical cinder block classrooms across the country. I am not on the semester system anymore but I will bet the main topic today is Reconstruction. A handful of these lectures are brilliant and engaging, a substantial minority are pedantic and dull, most are competent. But how do we justify the massive inefficiency of this 19th-century model, particularly when each of those classrooms is equipped with a computer, camera, and internet connection?

The problem is not the model but the format.  Why simply lecture, lecture, lecture?  Why not discuss, debate, analyze, present, work in groups, even role-play?  There are ways to get students engaged besides twitter and youtube.
And this can all be done in large groups. I attended a conference in which a presenter showed video and photos of her class of 500 students doing group work, presentations, and whole-class discussions in a STEM field. It can be done. Probably not by me, but it can be done.

Then your presenter is a better person than I have ever seen in situations where the N hundred of us who showed up probably were interested (it's a focus session at a conference, no credit, no required attendance) and yet, when I looked around the room, only a handful of us were doing the group work.  Indeed, I probably had to give up on getting the five people sitting closest to me to even introduce themselves, let alone contribute to trying the problem.  I can't imagine doing that as the instructor in a classroom of 500 since I only get my 24 students to do it is by standing right next to reluctant groups and saying, "You can do it.  What's the first step?  Seriously, I'm going to stand here and harangue you until you do the first step.  It's a two-hour class and I have nothing else to do."
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eigen
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« Reply #29 on: May 03, 2012, 11:26:10 PM »

The class size isn't *that* uncommon in STEM fields. Not familiar enough with the situation in other areas in large state schools to comment.

Penn State's General Chemistry classes were, iirc, 2500 students in one lecture room. Louisiana State only has 800 students in a lecture hall, but one professor covers 3 rooms- physically lecturing in one, and through a video screen in the others, rotating to each room physically once per week.

I know Penn State did tests by bulk hiring grad students to each sit in and proctor a 100 student section of the lecture hall, and I assume grading was done similarly.
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