Comments on: Technology and pedagogy: what’s good is what works. History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:05:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Anastasia Beaverhausen Tue, 17 Nov 2009 18:14:43 +0000 I love using my online gradebook, be it in D2l, Moodle, or Blackboard. I would be lost without it.

Other technologies that I love using depending on the course are for more concept map presentations and course wikis. is something I came across at a conference that allows me to create a giant concept map and then zoom in as I go, it has been my new toy. As for wikis, rather than handing out study guides I have the class create one as part of an assignment and then they can have that available for their take home test on top of their notes.

As for the comments on laptop schools, I have worked for 2 of them now, 1 high school and 1 college. They have both good and bad sides, but I find if I give students expectations at the beginning, there’s less blackjack going on. Most of the expectations have to do with making the use of technology meaningful to the students, and that is what I think we are all talking about here.

I have used twitter in a class, but it was very specific to the course. I don’t recommend it with freshmen or sophomores, they had trouble keeping the academic and the personal separate.

I have seen so many colleagues using technology for technology’s sake and the students get so engrossed in the technology, not the lesson.

By: Western Dave Mon, 09 Nov 2009 01:20:46 +0000 My favorite technologies from a teacher in a wired Upper School:

You can have my Smart Board when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Smart Ideas and Smart notebook make my Smart Board even better. You should see the multi-media Smart Ideas map my colleagues and I built of the 1950s that my students explore on their laptops. Smart notebook is particularly useful for annotating primary documents together as a group.

Google Earth – Can’t teach the first half of the World Survey or my environmental history class without it. Had students build google earth tours of the silk road for an assignment last year, will have the seniors do the same for Okie migrations.

Pages – my new favorite program. Students in American Environmental History jigsawed various chapters of Changes in the Land. The used pages to combine their chapter summaries into booklets which basically became quick and dirty study guides.

Big pieces of paper and colored pencils. Still a very effective technology. Make a brainstorm, a color-coded thematic timeline, a Y chart (like a Venn diagram with more room to write) or anything else.

By: Historiann Sat, 07 Nov 2009 17:32:55 +0000 Silly me! Edward Tufte has written a whole book on The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint! Awesome.

I really need to read more, don’t I?

By: Historiann Sat, 07 Nov 2009 17:27:50 +0000 Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts on technology in the classroom. I’m really persuaded by those of you who have spoken up to recommend technologies that get the students engaged with the material and interacting with one another before class. I’ve always required weekly short essays, to ensure that they do the reading and think about it at least a little before class, but your ideas are really great about the value of getting them “talking” to each other before they even walk into the next class. My classes could definitely use a boost from some of your techniques.

On the subject of bad uses of PowerPoint: a book I wholeheartedly recommend, although it’s not brand-new, is Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. It was really helpful when thinking about designing charts and graphs for my dissertation (back when I cared about quantitative information!), but I think it made me a little smarter about effective visuals in general. It’s a very smart book–take a look at it, if at all possible, just for kicks.

By: Connie Malamed Fri, 06 Nov 2009 17:50:34 +0000 PowerPoint, even though it has a bad reputation, can be good if slides are properly designed. I think the expression, “Death by PowerPoint,” comes from so many presenters filling up their slides with long lists of bullets.

On the other hand, using PP for displaying visuals, animations, thought-provoking comments, and anything else engaging can enhance a lecture/presentation. Also, keeping in mind that a visual hierarchy is important helps too.

I actually just came across some interesting research about how using sentences rather than phrases in slide titles can increase retention (at lease in more technical presentations) that I summarized here, if anyone’s interested:

By: Ellie Fri, 06 Nov 2009 16:02:46 +0000 I’ve had a great experience this semester doing something like Leslie describes, using a wiki insead of GoogleDocs in a grad seminar. Students posted questions and used the comment function to answer each others’ questions before class. It’s the same principle as a course I took as a grad student, where we had to circulate questions and answers via an email listserve, but the wiki was tidier and easier to work with. Posters could compose in a word processor and then cut-and-paste into the wiki, so the contributions flowed more naturally from everyone’s usual writing process; the contributions could be easily and tidily printed. All involved seemed to think it worked well, and the classes for which we did this really moved to another level of discussion because it was already underway. And it shifted the conversation away from me: students had to decide for themselves what was important or interesting, and began to debate among themselves in a way that they tend to be less willing to do in class.

I also hate the reading from over-stuffed slide presentations (somehow omnipresent in presentations from administrators, IT people, and faculty committees!). I try to avoid this in my own lectures, where I rely on PPT to outline, present images, quotes for analysis, etc., but I’d be interested what other people think is the happy medium between too much and too little.

By: GayProf Fri, 06 Nov 2009 15:12:37 +0000 Oh thank the goddess we don’t have to drag maps around with us wherever we go. Or have to struggle with slide carousels.

Like you, Power Point is probably my main source of tech for all the reasons you outlined. Having sat through several colleagues’ lectures recently, though, I am surprised by the number of people who still use that technology poorly (either information overload on each slide or nothing of note).

I like that our campus has on-line course packets for the students, which makes all of our lives easier.

My classes are also media intensive, so video is critical (and YouTube comes in handy for quick clips).

In the end, though, I think that I could give it all up if needed and still have the same class.

By: perpetua Fri, 06 Nov 2009 13:22:00 +0000 I’m particularly inspired by the suggestions that involve ways of getting students talking to each other about the readings before class. This can be so useful – they talk differently and more easily to each other than in class. I’ve noticed in my seminars that if I break them into groups of two at the beginning of every class, I *always* have a better discussion when we come back together. The quiet ones get a chance to preview their ideas and have more confidence in speaking out. It also gives the less-quick students time to think through problems. This seems to go much better when they can bounce ideas off each other, than when one tries to assign pre-circulated questions about the readings. And as Leslie comments above, it’s priceless to know what interested/ confused them beforehand.

I’m all for any technology that encourages students to understand that they are the protagonist of their education.

PowerPoints full of text are terrible! But for the record, I loved mapstands, but they’ve all disappeared in the unis where I’ve worked.

By: Leslie M-B Fri, 06 Nov 2009 03:30:24 +0000 If only more faculty used PowerPoint as you describe–to show vibrant images and offer students more opportunities for discussion and active, engaged learning. Unfortunately, I work in a basement with three lecture halls and a number of smaller classrooms, and at any time of the day, I can walk the halls, peer into open doors, and see faculty lecturing from very text-heavy PowerPoint slides–with no student interaction or participation whatsoever, and with very few visuals.

It’s disheartening. As someone who is so steeped in the theory and praxis of undergraduate learning, seeing someone drone on from slides crammed with 14-point text is like watching a barber apply leeches. To me, it’s really that appalling and anachronistic. And it’s inexcusable.

When I teach material culture or any other course that’s especially visual, I upload to the web a slide deck (as a PDF) packed with visuals, and encourage students to download it before class so that they can scrawl notes all over the images. Since the images appear on the midterm and final essay exams, students are grateful to have them in a printable form.

I’m experimenting this quarter with Google docs with my museum studies grad students. Each week I create a new, blank doc and require students to post at least one question, one quote, and one comment (I borrowed this practice, but not the digital medium, from one of my mentors, who calls them QQCs) from/about the readings. The students begin to “talk” to one another in the document, and they come to class ready to continue the conversation. Best of all, I know which topics have interested or confounded them before I even arrive in the classroom.

By: Indyanna Fri, 06 Nov 2009 03:21:22 +0000 I was a mimeo-junkie too, from K-to about 28 or so, when it went missing. Today it would probably fall victim to some kind of substance based zero-tolerance protocol even if it wasn’t technologically obsolete. Great picture on this post, btw, and it’s exZACtly where I am right now in the survey course, which means I’m running about a half-week off syllabus. I always used to get murdered in the pre-video game version of Oregon Trail, by a six year old of all things. Too many bullets, not enough bacon. This fall, if I break down around Chimney Rock, I’m going to make a left turn and point my lead ox, Browser, straight toward Potterville!