During the summer of 2011, wireless technology was made available in all of the Keene State College classrooms thus enabling students to interact with class material and engage in class activities in new ways. CELT has highlighted two proven learning activities that we hope will assist faculty to think about leveraging the ‘net enabled classroom. We also think that it will help facilitate more in depth conversations with colleagues about instructional practices. At the bottom of this post you’ll find resources for learning activities and best practices shared by seasoned classroom instructors.
Using a Blackboard pre-test to gauge students understanding
While there are many, many variations on this activity, the one listed here is pretty straightforward as all it requires is some Blackboard-survey-know-how.
Remember the pop-quiz from middle school? In some ways it felt punitive and did little to help with the learning process. More often than not it was used to make sure students did their homework. But what if faculty could use the same idea and turn it into a real-time-feedback-tool which could be used to help steer the direction of instruction? In others words it’s a strategy to help instructors teach more effectively.
Here’s an example of how to do it in a wireless classroom.
Assign an out-of-class reading to students and use a Blackboard in-class quiz to assess their understanding of the material. The quiz should be about 5 questions or so. Immediately assess how they did by viewing the results which provide a percentage breakdown for those who answered correctly or, as important, incorrectly. Use this information to immediately address the gaps in understanding.
Another strategy could be to give students class-time to re-read the material and take another quiz. In either scenario, interpreting quiz results in real time informs instructors about where they need to spend valuable class time as well as giving students an idea of where they might need to focus their efforts.
Time required to set up Bb survey: less than 20 minutes
Time required for students to take in-class survey: 5 minutes
Time for instructor to review percentages: 1 minute
Using video to enhance understanding
Like all well-thought-out classroom activities this one from Stephen Brookfield centers on student engagement and active listening and less on wireless technology. It can be re-purposed in so many ways that it seemed like a good example to include in this post.
Use short video segments (5 minutes) to introduce a new idea or concept to students.
Move students into groups of 4 or 5 but be mindful of the groupings as group dynamics can dampen or enlighten the activity.
Assign each group a different video. The topics could be the same but it might make for a more rich report-out at the end if they were not the same.
After the groups have watched the videos ask a question(s)about ideas, concepts or point-of-view. * Each students will answer the questions on their own but will share with their assigned group.
Provide enough time for students to collect and organize their thoughts. Consider raising the level accountability and ask each student to write down their response.
Open up the questions for discussion. Each student has uninterrupted time (1 minute) to share their thoughts.
Once everyone in the group has contributed a second round ensues but with the following ground rules: students can only talk about someone else’s comments and are not allowed to elaborate on their own point-of-view unless requested to do so.
This simple but highly effective group activity can be used in a variety of ways. The reason it is put forth here is to acknowledge that video can be a useful supplemental tool but it needs to be grounded in an activity that involves participation from every student.
CELT Faculty Friday addition CELT just concluded a conversation with faculty who participated in this 2-hour session. Below are some of the ideas shared:
Require that students complete their homework assignment during class. Use the Bb Assignment tool to collect material. Use this time to coach students having difficulty or who need clarification on the assignment.
Use Google Forms during and at the end of class to survey the students on their understanding of concepts just covered or as a “just-in-time” teaching tool. For instance, use the results to 1) determine if the concepts your covering are understood or 2) are answering the questions in the form in a meaningful way. If answers are not to your satisfaction, go over the content and guide them to where you want them to be or 3) if this is a one time activity, survey the students to see how the students perceived the value of the activity (or guest speaker, training, workshop, etc.).
Use Google Docs to have students type lecture notes and share them via Bb or keep them on Google.
These were just a few of the ideas share during the session. If you have some ideas that you would like to share please drop us a comment.
Much of the academic world is already familiar with Wikipedia – the free online encyclopedia of nearly 4 million entries – but also hesitant to embrace it as a useful learning tool. The web, however, is teaming with other user built resources that follow the wiki format.
A wiki is a website that allows for easy creation and manipulation of a virtually countless number of pages. Additionally, a wiki characteristically is web based and allows multiple authors to contribute to a single page via a web browser. The true power of a site like Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute. In some cases that means that individuals can contribute their specialised knowledge about a topic, and it can also mean that strong copy editors can contribute a critical eye to sentence structure and flow. The underlying ideological understanding in a wiki is that not everyone possesses the same skills, talents, or predispositions: Strong researchers may be more concerned with the validity of their data, and not the grammatical structure of their sentences; copy editors (read English Majors) may not be fluent in current technical jargon, but write eloquently and can quickly spot problems with grammar andsyntax.
It’s not what you bring to a wiki that matters, but it does matter that you bring something.
In that way, you can think of a wiki as a potluck. At a potluck dinner there is an agreement among the participants that everyone is contributing something: not everyone has to bring a stellar dessert or even bring very much, but they do have to bring something – otherwise there’s too many guests and not enough dinner.
Another common characteristic of a wiki is the use of links. This usually appears as words that are a different color and underlined. Links might direct a reader to an internal or external source. The practice of linking topics/terms/ideas within a wiki can make it easy for viewers to explore the ideas/content presented.
Unfortunately, many academics fear the use of Internet based resources – like Wikipedia – because of their open nature. Wikipedia allows nearly anyone to contribute content and make revisions. For this vary reason it’s often pinned as an unreliable resource (the scientific journal nature has some interesting findings you can read about here and Thomas Chesney has some interesting findings you can read about here). You may agree or disagree with that argument, nonetheless in this course you’ll be building a wiki-based resource with your classmates. This an opportunity to learn about the inherent strengths and weaknesses of a wiki, including some insight into what kind of project fits well with the wiki model.
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