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Author Topic: Are teaching demonstrations expected to be high tech?  (Read 6522 times)
fizmath
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« on: April 17, 2012, 5:35:13 PM »

I suppose this depends on the subject.  If the classroom has a projector and a computer then am I expected to employ this when lecturing on some scientific topic?  Should I suppress my Luddite nature for a day?
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glowdart
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2012, 6:13:26 PM »

Personally, I would never rely on the technology working for a teaching demo, and I always had a back-up plan for when the projector bulb died.  (I did tech-free demos as well as one that needed tech.)   

I would also never advise anyone to change up their teaching methods just for a demo.  It's stressful enough without adding new approaches to the mix.

Did they tell you the room had tech?  It could just be that they're letting you know in case you want to use it.
 
Otherwise, I suspect the answer depends a lot on you, the job, and your discipline. 
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2012, 6:20:00 PM »

I'm not in STEM, but I agree with Glowdart, i.e. (a) do not stress yourself by changing your usual teaching methods for a job search teaching demo, and (b) if you do take the high-tech route, make sure you have a low(er)-tech alternative plan that you feel comfortable sliding into with zero notice, as necessary.

I would add (c) ask the SCC ahead of time what the technological capabilities/limitations are in the room you're going to teach in.  If possible, even nip over there before the demo in order to make sure everything's working.

In my own field (humanities), I've seen the occasional candidate marked up for excelling with a high-tech job talk, but it's much, much more common to see a candidate marked down for some sort of tech-related disaster.
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2012, 6:24:09 PM »

I use tech, but I have extensive back up plans. For my latest round of teaching talks I had everything on zipdrive, on my laptop ( for which I brought my own LCD adapters) as well as having the presentation uploaded into googledocs.

Yes, there was a tech issue with nearly every one of the sites, but I was always able to get it up and running.
My teaching talk uses audio clips from my research classroom, so I wanted/needed the tech to do the discussion around the theory using the voices of the children.

Folks generally comment on how calm I am when doing the troubleshooting. I expect it, so it doesn't phase me. However if it isn't part of your "normal" routine, I wouldn't bust it out now.
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neutralname
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2012, 6:29:57 PM »

If at all possible, I would try to see what the norm is for the school or the particular class you are teaching.  Maybe ask the SC, emphasizing that you want to give those students the best teaching experience possible and so you want to know what they are used to.

It's very easy to imagine someone on the SC, or the Dean, objecting to a candidate on the grounds that they didn't use technology.  That might not be a major problem, but you want to eliminate the problem if you can.
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melba_frilkins
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2012, 6:41:07 PM »

1. We end up doing teaching demos in a room that is fine for computer projection. But anyone doing chalk-and-talk ends up with just that, a small dusty old chalk board. It has the unfortunate effect of making the user look bad by association. However, if you are demo-ing in a normal classroom, you're likely to have a good white board instead and this won't be an issue. I would bring my own whiteboard markers, just in case, so you don't get stuck with crummy ones.

2. People have become so used to having something to LOOK at during the presentation. However, you can fill that need without going high tech. If you don't use slides, DO bring a handout (just one page with an outline suffices). Otherwise you may look unprepared and less organized than the Powerpoint users.

3. Tiny tip: I've seen search committee members make note of whether the interviewee erases the board at the end (do you clean up after yourself?). Personally, I don't care about this (I understand that the interviewing is stressful so it's easy to forget niceties like erasing the board) but just saying, some people do care.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2012, 6:53:27 PM »

I have successfully gotten a STEM teaching job with a teaching demo that involved dropping books and papers on the ground (air resistance, so that wasn't just me being clumsy) and writing on a whiteboard.

I also got a STEM teaching job by giving a history talk using powerpoint in an intro physics class.

Do the best teaching demo on the topic that shows your stuff and let the chips fall where they may.  Do everyone a favor and make sure that what is being evaluated is your best, not trying to hit the secret technique and hoping that is the key to the magic kingdom.  If a magic key exists, then the department won't be happy when you show up for the job and do something different.
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marigolds
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2012, 7:15:46 PM »

I have successfully gotten a STEM teaching job with a teaching demo that involved dropping books and papers on the ground (air resistance, so that wasn't just me being clumsy) and writing on a whiteboard.

I also got a STEM teaching job by giving a history talk using powerpoint in an intro physics class.

Do the best teaching demo on the topic that shows your stuff and let the chips fall where they may.  Do everyone a favor and make sure that what is being evaluated is your best, not trying to hit the secret technique and hoping that is the key to the magic kingdom.  If a magic key exists, then the department won't be happy when you show up for the job and do something different.

This.  (Without the STEM part or the book-dropping, though I prefer to imagine that's just you being charmingly goofy rather than intentional, Polly.)
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2012, 7:42:28 PM »

No, I dropped things intentionally because that's a low-tech way to show something cool, but it is kinda goofy.

Hold a big book and a sheet of paper at shoulder level, one in each hand and have the biggest area on each facing downward.  Let go of each at the same time.  Which hits the ground first?  Why?

Now, hold a flat sheet of paper (big area facing downward) and a crumpled sheet of paper (make a good ball) at shoulder level.  Release each at the same time.  Which hits the ground first?  Why?

For the third example, hold the crumpled sheet of paper and the big book (biggest area facing downward) at shoulder level and then release.  Which hits the ground first?  (if your answer isn't "both hit at the same time", then try it and see.)

Now, which is more effective: a Powerpoint presentation on air resistance and how acceleration due to gravity is related to mass with some equations and bulletpoints or dropping a few things so that everyone can see?

OP, pick something effective to show your topic.  Don't buy into more technology always being better.
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erzuliefreda
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2012, 7:54:21 PM »

Our demos (in History) involve the candidate teaching a real session of the survey class. Part of what we look at is whether or not the students are taking notes. If they are just staring at you, engaged, but not writing, that is not the goal. Keep in mind our students are often not prepared for college, and the demos are all in freshman classes.

I very strongly favor candidates who use key terms and make those clear to the students. I don't care how you do this--Power Point, handout, or write them on the board--but I vote against anyone who just talks at our freshmen without showing them the terms being discussed. So I would say it depends on the type of school it is as well as the subject.
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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 9:44:52 AM »

With many departmental teaching evaluations now including a section on "technology use in the classroom", it is probably best to at least show that you are capable of using minimal technology.  As long as you don't read straight from rely too much on slides, you'll do fine.  Sounds like that isn't a problem for you anyway.

Years ago during the teaching demo at my very first campus interview, the whole tech package would not start, so I winged it.  One of the SC members finally got it running about 30 minutes into a 50 minute presentation, but I had already covered the white board and kept going without PPT.  SC apologized frequently, but said it was good to see the adaptability.

Best of luck!
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mrs_sunshine
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2012, 11:55:52 AM »

After reading a zillion technology-related teaching demo horror stories, I purposely didn't use technology during my teaching demo. Instead, I did it low-tech and then mentioned a few variations of lesson. That way, the SC had a good idea of how I might present the lesson with and without technology. It seemed to go well. That said, I'm still waiting to see if I got the job... So who knows. :o)
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oldadjunct
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LIFO. Enough said.


« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 6:07:11 PM »

If the job posting mentions "technology in the classroom", as many now do, then yes you should integrate something into the demo.  Bring three types of backup (thumb drive, CD, and an email w/attachment to yourself), and a complete set of hard copies for fall back.  Call the Department AA and ask to arrive early to familiarization with the room, the likely answer is "yes".

Like it or not (I harbor mixed feelings) many of your competitors are doing some very cool things with PPt.  And if technology is mentioned in the posting it is safe, though not guaranteed, to assume that the institution has invested significant money in the classrooms for reliable systems.  This is 2012 after all, so I have to doubt schools are kidding themselves about their technology resources the way they were in say 1999.

Be prepared, and don't wig out if the technology fails.  Pull out your hard copies and sally forth  It's not your fault and the SC knows it.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2012, 7:20:24 PM »

And if technology is mentioned in the posting it is safe, though not guaranteed, to assume that the institution has invested significant money in the classrooms for reliable systems.  This is 2012 after all, so I have to doubt schools are kidding themselves about their technology resources the way they were in say 1999.

Clearly, you are not interviewing at the places I interviewed this season.  Some of those schools were definitely kidding themselves about their technology resources, unless they were of the "whiteboards are technically technology" persuasion.
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glowdart
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2012, 9:47:13 PM »

And if technology is mentioned in the posting it is safe, though not guaranteed, to assume that the institution has invested significant money in the classrooms for reliable systems.  This is 2012 after all, so I have to doubt schools are kidding themselves about their technology resources the way they were in say 1999.

Clearly, you are not interviewing at the places I interviewed this season.  Some of those schools were definitely kidding themselves about their technology resources, unless they were of the "whiteboards are technically technology" persuasion.

It's also important to differentiate boilerplate institutional ad language from anything that the SC wrote or cares about.
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