Friday, October 9, 2009
My friend and colleague ProfGesser on Twitter is using several social networking tools to further his goal of increasing student engagement in social issues in his Sociology classes. Especially for those dedicated few who are constantly seeing a "teachable moment" in their daily lives and are willing to take the time to share it with their students, mobile technology and social networks can take a lot more work.... but can also help us to connect with students in a more meaningful way than traditional office hours alone did not allow.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
In choosing some of the most useful new programs and services to discuss under the topic "Innovative Technology," I've tried to look at those services/programs that are most useful in achieving the most common objectives teachers might have for learning units. The "Wow Factor" is often very seductive, but can lead us down a road of wasted time and loss of productivity. My approach to selecting new technology is to evaluate it based on whether it can actually support an important objective for a particular learning unit. Some of the innovations are more useful for online students, some are great for the more traditional classroom. Often, my best finds come from trying to find a way to achieve a particular goal in an online class that I can easily accomplish in the traditional classroom.
For instance: Years ago, I published an article in the Methods and Techniques section of Teaching of Psychology that demonstrated some of the perceptual and behavior changes that results from the "Split-Brain" operation. The class activity I developed worked great for helping students to get a feel for what it must be like to have been the recipient of the this procedure ( http://www.apa.org/ed/split.html). Later, as I was trying to find a way to use this activity with my online students, I began using video editing software to make little instructional movies. This has resulted in one of the most useful and popular parts of my online classes.
I have also insisted that I needed to have live interaction with my online students. In my early days of teaching online classes, I used simple chats to create a "virtual classroom." I continued to work on improving this effort to make a more interactive and student friendly experience for my classes. The creation of webconferencing tools such as Elluminate Live! has led to a truly interactive experience for my students that increases my connection with them and allows for greater freedom in the kind of activities and materials I can share with them. More recently, the availability of a free, three-person room from Elluminate, called a VRoom (for "virtual room") has opened up so many more possibilities, such as "virtual office hours," and colleague consultation.
So, the purpose of this blog entry is to provide the reader with some links to products and services that I have found to be great for furthering my classroom (virtual, or RL) objectives. I hope you find them useful. Here they are:
- A great source for ways to improve your PowerPoint presentations can be found at the University of Minnesota Active Learning with PowerPoint site. It has great tips and tutorials. Thanks to Sally Kuhlenschmidt of the FACET at WKU for turning me on to it.
- Annenberg has some great resources for Psychology teachers that are free at easy to use. the Discovering Psychology series is just the starting point for great additions to classes, both online and on-campus.
- GoogleDocs can be a great way to share files and collaborate with other faculty on projects. But it is also a great tool for enabling students to work together on projects such as presentations and papers that faculty want them to use the "wiki" approach on. Vince DiNoto (Jefferson CTC), who taught me in my first online class, introduced me to this useful tool.
- The Wimba Voice Suite of tools are an outstanding resource for building community, collaboration, creating multimedia presentations online, and other activities that enhance both online and web-enhanced classes. Want to invite a guest speaker to your class, but they are too far away, or busy, to make the trip? Invite them to speak to your class via the "virtual classroom."
- Second Life is a Multi-User Virtual Environment that is on the cutting-edge of what distance learning can resemble in the future. A virtual environment that is capable of combining the most attractive features of a social network and a versatile learning platform, SL is richly supported by a host of educators who are passionate about this new world of possibilities. For Psychology, the possibilities are endless in SL. We can investigate an endless number of social and cognitive phenomena, as well as present information in simulations, demonstrations, and in an exploratory approach, all within a media rich environment, almost as diverse as the real world. See my video on A Day in The Second Life for a basic look at life "in-world." Institutions in Second Life looks at how some major institutions are using Second Life to inform and train their users. In A Tour of Second Life, you will see some interesting sites within SL that illustrate its power to educate and inform.
- PSYCHTEACH is an important tool for teachers of Psychology. PSYCHTEACH is a LSTSERV that is a very active community of teacher of psychology with a broad range of interests and expertise. It's a great source of information about events, position openings, teaching methods, innovations, and "where-to-find" resources. Ask a question of your peers! To subscribe, contact Bill Hill at: email@example.com
Well, I hope the reader finds something useful here. This rambling discussion points to some methods and techniques that I have found useful in the last few of my 29 years of college teaching. Enjoy! And don't forget to let me know if YOU find anything useful.
Ed Morris (AKA Spender Voom)