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.
There are lots of reasons that you might use Google Spreadsheets instead of Microsoft’s Excel or SPSS. As a teaser for this week’s Faculty Friday, here are a narrow set of the benefits you’ll find with Spreadsheets.
Careful and measured data analysis is an important part of the research process. With that in mind, it’s also important to have a sense of what the data is saying at a glance. Google Spreadsheets gives you the flexibility to survey students about a topic and immediately transfer that information into a spreadsheet. Instant results means being able to skip the steps of scoring results, inputting them in a spreadsheet, and doing calculations by hand. While those skills are essential to learn and cultivate, it’s easy for students to feel lost in a sea of procedural steps before they see any results. Using Spreadsheets allows you to talk the data you’ve collected immediately, explore questions around what might be missing or inconsistant, and coach students through the process of data analysis.
Data that’s in a Spreadsheet
Google Spreadsheets gives you a variety of options for downloading your data once you’ve collected it. You can pull your data as a CSV (Comma Separated Value), HTML, Text, Excel, OpenOffice, or a PDF. This gives you the flexibility to go back to Excel or SPSS, if that’s where you’re comfortable working with data, if you would rather not use Google Spreadsheets.
Data that you can Graph – Immediately
Once you understand how Spreadsheets organizes data, it’s easy to create graphs that update in real time. Real time graphs give you a tool, as an instructor, that allows you to create visual representations of trends or attitudes. Reading charts and graphs is an important part of interpreting quantitative data, and this gives you an avenu for reinforcing that skill set.
Data that you can reference
Spreadsheets are a tremendously powerful tool. Hands down. The problem is that learning to use them well can be an intimidating process. One of the wonderful things about a spreadsheet is that values in cells can be referenced in other cells or on other pages. This means that results and calculations can be deeply connected to one another. It also means that a single data set can be used for multiple purposes without needing to be copied or altered.
Data that students can manipulate
The real benefit of a Google Spreadsheet over an Excel spreadsheet comes in the form of real time collaboration and manipulation. Instead of trading a single file back and forth with multiple versions, students access a single document that behaves in the same way on a PC and on a Mac. You always have access to the most recent version of the document, and you can track the revisions of a document over time. Additionally, you have the ability to lock portions of the spreadsheet if you need to protect your raw data. Locked pages in a spreadsheet can still be referenced with formulas on other pages. This means that students reference your primary data set, and the data set of their peers, but not be able to accidentally delete data or formulas.
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