Monday, March 12, 2012

The Joy of Learning, part deux

Conveniently enough, right after the first of this series of blog posts, I came across another inspiring article, this one about the use of mobile media in the classroom (and on campus). This wasn't 100% the direction I was going in with this topic, but the way this professor has used technology to engage his students is inspiring. I love, love, LOVE his use of location-aware apps to have students explore their campus. Could you imagine a professor sending you outside on a lovely day like today during class? (And the possibilities for having the library be part[s] of this assignment?!)

Also, I've long been a proponent of the idea of actually ::gasp:: *encouraging* a Twitter backchannel during presentations. (See: https://twitter.com/#!/val_forrestal/statuses/127455465339752448, for how I feel about the matter.) I do agree that students with their heads buried in their laptop/tablet/phone can be distracting and off-putting for a presenter, so you may have to set some ground rules, or intervene if you feel that they are *never* looking up, but banning mobile devices from all classrooms is not the answer, imho.

The truth is, information without context is dull, and can be confusing. Allowing students to go outside the classroom to find that context will help them engage with the information. This doesn't always have to include technology. For example, I love when a professor asks me to read an article or book chapter, and then, instead of summarizing it, asks for my thoughts/impressions/insights on the topic. This allows me to interact with the information presented, beyond just reading enough of it to paraphrase the gist of the article. You can also do this in classroom discussions; (especially on a graduate level, quizzing students to see if they did the reading is a little insulting. Class/forum discussions on the reading helps you asses whether they've done the reading, and gives students the benefit of each other's understanding of the material.)

With online classes (which I've done most of my current degree program though) use of technology becomes increasingly important for fostering this kind of discussion. CMS forums, wikis, twitter hashtags, blogs, facebook pages, and even pinterest boards can all help professors and students link what they are learning, with what they already know, and this is a vital step for fostering knowledge.

Anyway, if you are doing anything cool with technology in the classroom (especially, but not limited to, library and info lit training), let me know in the comments. I'd love to steal... ::ahem:: borrow your ideas!

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