I’ve been teaching composition at the college level since 1984, and have had the pleasure of working with students at several different institution types: a community college, a private college, and a research university. For 10 years, I served as writing program administrator at the University of California, Irvine, responsible for facilitating required first-year writing courses and for training new graduate students to teach composition. The first-year writing class is truly a rite of passage, a common experience for thousands of college students across the country every year.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Teaching with Technology
One of the strengths of gamification is that it provides visible milestones of the student’s mastery of content in real time (when it is well designed). Too often in an instructional setting, the learner doesn’t know whether or not he or she really understands or can apply the knowledge they are learning. There is often no visible sign of mastery of the content or application of the content.
When I was in college (for 12 years I might add) there were really only three sources of information available to students: 1) Instructor 2) Textbook 3) Library. This was not such a distant past. A mere two decades ago I finished my undergrad, and I graduated with my PhD in 2001. I don’t think learning, or even how we learn, has changed all that much since then. But what has changed is access to information and how that access might actually distract from learning.
Social media has revolutionized communication by allowing anyone to easily broadcast ideas and creations to a broad audience. Whereas creative expression through media was once owned by a select few movie studios, television networks, and radio stations, now thousands of people have YouTube channels that they use to broadcast homemade shows on anything from news to entertainment to peer advice, etc. Dozens of these people are making a full-time living from the advertising revenue from their homemade shows.
Blended learning entails more than simply replacing class time with online course elements or supplementing an online course with face-to-face meetings. To be successful, the online and face-to-face modes need to be integrated by taking into account the learning objectives and the affordances of each mode and deliberately linking what occurs in each mode.
A few weeks ago, I had to accompany my husband out of town for a week of medical tests. That meant my presence was required in two places at once: in my classroom and at the hospital. I didn’t want to cancel classes, so I decided to try something new. I arranged to meet with each of my students online for about 15 minutes to discuss the first draft of their first composition paper.
I remember well the days when digitizing documents and photographs was a huge challenge. Scanners in the 1990s were not readily available, expensive, took up about the better part of one’s desk, cumbersome to use, and the output quality varied from scanner to scanner. My first desktop scanner, a high-end SCSI scanner, cost around $2000 in 1994!
Donald Eastman III, the president of Eckert College, wrote about the limits of online learning: “…what works for most students…is a small classroom…where a respected authority…is a spellbinding revealer of mysteries – not simply because he or she knows things we don’t, but because a gifted teacher reads the audience the way an actor reads the room…”
We’ve all heard the expressions “Death by PowerPoint” and “PowerPoint-induced coma.” I think we’d all agree that most of PowerPoints stink. Yet after sitting through presentation after presentation that bore us to tears, we turn around and subject our students and colleagues to the same torture that we find so excruciating. Why?
It seems like everyone is talking about the flipped classroom. But how do you use this new model to construct lessons and assessments that reinforce student learning?