NMC 2009: Teaching Well with Innovative Technologies

19 06 2009
Greg Leihman

Greg Leihman

One of the best talks I attend was Greg Reihman’s teaching well with innovative technologies. Here is a brief of what he said:

No discussion of particular technologies but think about what it is we want to do when teaching. How do we plan a course or help others do that to use technology effectively? Was teaching humanities [studied philosophy]. How do we make a session better? The program he is in is called the LeHigh Lab. On a paper: Think of a specific course. What is one thing your students aren’t learning as well as you would like them to learn? What technology are you thinking about putting to use to help solve that problem?

Designing classes:

  1. plan backwards: Outcomes: don’t think of you as instructor but think of the outcomes, learning objectives. What do you want students to do when they take your class? What will they learn to do? Think in term of verbs. Putting it out to them in their language. Assessment: what tools will you use to know if they learnt what they needed [quizzes, tools etc.] Activity: what will they DO to learn with their minds and bodies to gain those skills? The primary activity is they listen and they sit. Or they could do other things that could push us to a higher order of things: ruminating, creating, analyzing, debating, thinking, comparing, debating, writing, visualizing, critiquing, applying, evaluating, reading. Think of things they will do alone and others they will do with others. In the presence of instructor they usual listen and sit, but the others are done away from faculty member. When they get stomped when they are alone or with their peers, how far away will you be to offer support? All these things need to match up. Create a week on a paper and say for example on Tuesday they will listen and Thursday they will discuss – or have discussion on Tuesday and then follow up discussions on Thursday. How about writing? Use informal writing assignments – eg in blogs.
  2. What’s hard about teaching a seminar? Preparation, participation, depth Participation 30%, Final Project 20%, Paper 2 analytic Essay, Online Journal 15%, Paper 1 Comparative Essay 15%. There needs to be a midterm assessment and individual feeback that they do about themselves and that you help through. Setting up forums is important and bringing topics from that forum into the class is useful especially because you can draw in shy students. Using audio with the forum is great because you are not involved in the forum where students will start addressing you instead of each other. Ask them about the one post that they found generated comments. Now they are not only participating in the forums but they are also thinking about what makes a good conversation. Monday: lecture; Tuesday Read; online group discussion; Wednesday: write a question based on what the students wrote on the forum. Group discussion summary that I write and then give it to other groups for them to comment on. They come up with discussions for the groups. So group 4 takes the summary of group 14’s responses and come up with questions of their own to that group.
  3. Find a ‘conceptual splinter’: they are divided into groups of 5 and they bring one thing to class that they are puzzled about the following time and share what they were talking about. We took that splinter and passed it to another group. Then find a way to remove splinter: how do you make sure they all make the work? They need to write it down and at the end of the class he collects them all. Then they come back together and pick the three best solutions and from those three they need to pick one that is most plausible: which one makes a good logical argumentation? Inside the wiki he wrote the four speculations and why each is not a good answer and then one that makes sense and why. And then he writes his own comments at the bottom of the page. Knowledge survey: he asks them 20 questions in the beginning and writes their answers in a graph – the question is: could you give a philosophically sound response to this question – rate it from 0-5 in terms of confidence. Then at the end of the semester give them the same 20 questions and then put it all in a graph that starts from No confidence to complete confidence.
  4. Team teaching: bring out the sheet you wrote and see if particular technologies fit with your course and what you want to achieve.
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