Tag Archives: teaching

Can Technology Fix the Lecture?

shutterstock_160647422A professor stands in the front of the class and delivers a lecture. Students may jot down notes—they may not. A discussion may occur—it may not. Questions may be asked—they may not. Students take exams, write papers, complete class evaluations, and receive grades. We hope they learn.

While this model of the college lecture may not be going the way of the dodo quite yet, even major research institutions—historically more concerned with obtaining grants than teaching undergraduates—are starting to get on the accountability bandwagon. As pressure grows for universities to show that their graduates walk away from college with more than a parchment and debt, more administrators and instructors are looking to data to improve student learning.

The lecture’s critics claim the teaching model is nothing more than a cheap way for colleges to deliver information to large numbers of students, a curse to researchers duty-bound to teach and a chore to withstand for fidgety undergraduates. It is no wonder that as the price tag for an undergraduate education rises, so does attention to quantifiable results, and one of the first practices being examined is the lecture.

To address the issue, some campuses use clickers to gauge student comprehension during lectures. Via remote control, the devices allow professors to test understanding by posting responses to questions instantly. However, more sophisticated ways to garner data are being developed.

The University of Michigan uses LectureTools, a program that allows students to follow lecture slides on their own devices as it collects data that measure their reactions to the lecture. Students can take notes right on the lecture slides, respond to questions, and ask questions in real time. The application’s inventor, Prof. Perry Samson of the University of Michigan, designed the tool so that instructors could use actual data to gauge the effectiveness of their teaching. As a professor pulled between research and teaching, he understands his colleagues’ reticence in adopting new technology, so he designed the tool to mesh with individual teaching styles.

Instituting large-scale changes to such an entrenched model of learning as the lecture will not be easy. Ordering professors to change doesn’t work, says Martha E. Pollack, a provost at the University of Michigan. To sweeten the pot, some universities offer grants in hopes that framing new learning approaches as research opportunities will appeal to professors. The goal is not to proscribe one way of teaching but to excite professors about innovation, she says.


What are your thoughts about lecturing? Share your experiences with us!


Source: Kolowich, S. (2014, August 11). Can universities use data to fix what ails the lecture? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Can-Colleges-Use-Data-to-Fix/148307/



Students Turn Off Phones in Class and Like It…”Pink Ghetto” of PR Pays Off for Women…Bookless College Library—New Trend?

shutterstock_150957437Students Turn Off Phones in Class and Like It

What happened when a college instructor asked students to voluntarily turn off cell phones during class? Increased focus, more note taking, and greater participation (in lieu of furtive checks to phones on laps!) Surprisingly, the students loved it. All it took was offering a little extra credit. When asked about how they benefitted from parting with their phones, students said they concentrated better and felt the classroom was more respectful.

“Pink Ghetto” of PR Pays Off for Women

Women dominate public relations, making up 63 percent public relations specialists and 59 percent of public relations managers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, women in these positions make a good living. Although female PR specialists still earn considerably less than their male counterparts in the same positions, the average salary of $55,705 per year provides a respectable wage and a great career option.

Bookless College Library—New Trend?

A new college in Lakeland, Florida, has opened its doors to an odd sight: a library without books. Students at Florida Polytechnic University will have access to 135,000 e-books but won’t be able to cruise the stacks or practice their Dewey decimal skills. Librarians will train students in managing digital materials and steer them to tutoring resources. Many see plusses in this model, including easy access to resources. However, preserving information as technology changes may prove more challenging.


What do you think about offering extra credit for turning off cell phones, the “pink ghetto” of PR, or bookless libraries? Please post your comments!

Teaching with Tablets Offers Plenty of Plusses

shutterstock_146082389Tablets are expected to outsell PCs this year, and their popularity is carrying over to the classroom. Why use atablet instead of a PC or laptop anchored to a lectern? From the instructor’s perspective, the reasons are many.

  1. Tablets are not only easy to bring to class; they allow instructors to move within the classroom. By circulating with your tablet in hand, you can work with students and refer to readings and notes on your tablet. Removing yourself from the front of the room can have a positive impact on classroom dynamics, too. Yet another plus: Roam the aisles, tablet in hand, to discourage students from going off-task!
  1. Tablets save paper and keep notes organized in one place. Lesson plans, grades, attendance, and readings are available to view or annotate in one tool.
  1. Tablets with digital versions of textbooks allow for robust annotation and contain external links.
  1. Tablets support digital conversations and interactivity. The tablet can be used to engage students in discussions using Twitter. In a large lecture, this is a great way to encourage reticent students to respond to questions using a backchannel.
  1. Tablets allow you to take your work anywhere: classroom, office, bus, or sofa.
  1. Tablets replace other technology. You can show video, presentations, or images without lugging a laptop. Tablets also allow clicker technology, which is perfect for classrooms without much technological support.

Must-Have Apps for Teaching With Tablets

If you’re making the leap to using a tablet in your classroom, you’ll want to start by downloading apps. The choices are plentiful, but start with these:

Dropbox. Store files and transfer them between devices.

eClicker. Use the tablet as a polling tool that sends a signal to any wi-fi enabled device—great for pop quizzes or to gauge reactions and generate responses.

 Notability. Type or handwrite on a blank note or while annotating another document. Excellent for lesson plans.

Paperless Teacher and TeacherKit. Take attendance and record grades.

Popplet—Collaborate and map concepts—allows groups to work on devices while contributing to a shared concept map.

Skitch and iAnnotate. Take screenshots and mark up PDFs.


We’d love to hear about your experiences using tablets in your classroom. Post your comments above!


Sources: Hedge, S. (2012, November 4). Teaching with tablets. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/teaching-tablets#sthash.IHOtHTRM.dpbs

Machielse, C. (2012, January 31). 5 ways to use your iPad to teach in the college classroom. Retrieved from http://info.lecturetools.com/blog/bid/52506/5-Ways-to-Use-Your-iPad-to-Teach-in-the-College-Classroom

Miller, W. (November/December 2012). iTeaching and learning: Collegiate instruction incorporating mobile tablets. Library Technology Reports. Retrieved from http://alatechsource.metapress.com/content/W41833