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Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Role of Smartpens in the Flipped Classroom

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By Sue Glascoe, Contributor
eCampusNews 
 

In a perfect world where students always do their homework and come to class completely prepared, flipping the classroom would be the ideal solution for keeping students engaged in class.

However, one of the challenges of teaching is that some students do not always come to class completely prepared. Maybe flipping the classroom would be easier in a high school setting, where parents can enforce homework time. But college students have a choice — they’re adults.

No one is standing over their shoulders and making them do their homework.

When I decided to flip my classroom last year, I was faced with the challenge of engaging both my already highly-motivated students, and those who were slightly less motivated.

I teach mathematics at Mesa Community College, the largest community college in Arizona. I have been a math teacher for more than 25 years and have gained a considerable amount of experience in teaching current and future educators, blended math classes, and using technology to teach both inside and outside the classroom.

Read more about flipped learning in higher education…

    Flipped learning: Professor tested, student approved

   Is professorial ego driving opposition to flipped learning?
 

I’ve always loved technology and am constantly looking for new tools that will help my students.

One of the problems I had in the past involved students eMailing me with math questions that were difficult to answer over eMail–which is not exactly an ideal format for answering questions about graphing, for instance. So, about three years ago, I asked my kids to buy me a Livescribe smartpen for Mother’s Day to use with my students.

Smartpens captured what I said and wrote, so I could explain math problems while sketching them out. Instead of answering my students’ questions through eMail, I started sending them pencasts (the digital version of notes tied to audio) and then uploaded the pencasts to my class website for other students to access.

I’ve always loved technology and am constantly looking for new tools that will help my students.

One of the
problems I had in the past involved students eMailing me with math questions that were difficult to answer over eMail–which is not exactly an ideal format for answering questions about graphing, for instance. So, about three years ago, I asked my kids to buy me a Livescribe smartpen for Mother’s Day to use with my students.

Smartpens captured what I said and wrote, so I could explain math problems while sketching them out. Instead of answering my students’ questions through eMail, I started sending them pencasts (the digital version of notes tied to audio) and then uploaded the pencasts to my class website for other students to access.

Students found the pencasts easier to understand than my eMails, which gave me the idea to start teaching a blended course. During online days, I’d have my students watch pencasts instead of using their textbooks, and instead of lecturing during precious class time, I had them work in groups so I could help them tackle harder problems one-on-one.

Eventually I had assembled such a large library of pencasts on my website that I could completely flip my classroom. When I first introduced the new class format, some students resisted. I made it a requirement for students to watch pencasts, read the eBook, and take notes before coming to class.

In the beginning there were groans about the extra work outside of class — students were perfectly content just to show up to class and listen, rather than prepare beforehand — but once they got over the initial change in status quo, many students actually thanked me for the change. Because they were already familiar with the material when they came to class, we could dive into some of the harder problems or do group work.

Those who prepared outside of class saw that their grades improved post-flip. Students who had been getting B’s and C’s were suddenly getting A’s, and the class average on the semester final went up about 20 percent the semester I flipped my classroom.

However, I could not ignore the students who weren’t willing to prepare outside of class. There was an initial group of students who dropped the class because of the workload, and another small group who stayed, but didn’t do the work before class. I began requiring students to show their notes before class started to demonstrate they had done the prep work at home.

I made it clear to students who did not do the pre-class work that they shouldn’t come to class until they reviewed the materials. Instead, I had them spend the hour in the library catching up on the notes from the night before. It was a better use of their time to actually learn the material than sit, lost, as the rest of the class moved ahead. That small group found my methods to be a wake-up call and they began to quickly get on board.

To help familiarize the students with pencasts, I started letting them use the smartpen, designating different students as the “daily note taker” for the class. I asked — okay, assigned — a different student to be the note taker each day, and afterwards they surprisingly told me they actually appreciated the experience. Because they were responsible for taking notes that would be posted online for those who had missed class, they made an effort to take better notes and ultimately their note taking improved as a result.

Flipping the classroom is not a one-size-fits-all magic cure. But for the students who want to improve in math, flipping the classroom allows them to reap the benefits of the extra work they put in before attending class. Students who prepared beforehand felt more confident when they walked into my class and knew exactly what concepts we would be talking about that day.

My students are more engaged in class now — I enjoy interacting with them more, and they get to interact with each other, so the class period goes by a whole lot faster.

A flipped classroom is just what it sounds like: it is turning the typical classroom model on its head. Students are used to sitting and listening and a flipped classroom can be a bit of a shock to students at first. Ultimately, a flipped classroom does not come easy for every student, but with a little guidance and structure to get everyone on board, it certainly helped more of my students to succeed.

Sue Glascoe is a math instructor at Mesa Community College in Arizona.

 

 

 

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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Bring Your Own Mobile Devices To School

Education for today’s learners

Source: “Prepare your WLAN for the BYOD Invasion,” Aberdeen Group

Kids3resized

In today’s educational environments, more and more students, guests, and faculty are bringing in their own Wi-Fi devices into the campus network. This presents a unique challenge to the IT administrator. This paper discusses the challenges and solutions IT administrators are facing and how HP is addressing the security and management of the multiple devices being introduced into the wireless/wired network.

Technology is an essential element to keeping today’s students engaged. Demand for the expanded use of technology in education to raise academic achievement comes from virtually all constituents, from the federal government, to state education departments, to local school boards, teachers, parents, and students themselves. 

Tablets, notebooks, and other mobile devices takes learning out from computer labs and libraries and puts it directly into student’s hands. Especially for students who have grown up with Internet, gaming consoles, and texting. Digital curricula allow teachers to create new levels of interactivity that are ideal for individual and team learning, developing science and math skills, and language immersion. Mobile devices open up a universe of possibilities for science labs, distance learning, and student presentations. Teachers have new ways to assess students’ individual progress and provide additional instruction to students before they fall significantly behind.

To view the entire White Paper, download the document below.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Backpack Evolution: How Technology Changed Backpack Essentials

Backpack Evolution: How Technology Changed Backpack Essentials

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A reminder about data security; something that we all have to be vigilent about…

Back to School: Secure Your Online Life

August 13, 2012, 8:00 am

Chase security smallThe academic year is about to begin (or perhaps has already begun, at least where faculty meetings are concerned). Many of us will, no doubt, be taking advantage of a number of online services for sharing documents, organizing our course materials, buying books both analog and digital, synchronizing documents between our home and work computers, communicating with students and colleagues, storing and streaming media, etc. We’ve certainly covered the range of such services here: Dropbox, Spideroak, Google Documents/Drive, Google Plus, etc.

These services are incredibly convenient. Convenience, however, can have a downside: convenient services aren’t always as secure as we might like them to be (as Dave Parry pointed out last year, in a post that’s still very much worth reading for the questions about security and privacy that it raises). Services that make our data so very conveniently available to us on multiple devices may have security holes—and any service that can help us recover our password can also access our data. (That works both ways, of course. A service that can’t help us reset our password can’t access our data, but if we forget the password, we’ve got a serious problem if the data’s important.)

The most recent high-profile case illustrating the potential for trouble with the online services we find so convenient and useful is what happened to Mat Honan on August 3.

One of the things the Honan story makes clear is that users aren’t the only link in the security chain. There were security problems at both Amazon and Apple that, used in tandem, allowed hackers to get into his accounts. Using strong passwords (and different passwords for each site/service!) is essential, but it wouldn’t have helped in this particular instance. The primary security problems were with the services themselves.

Fortunately, Amazon and Apple have already made some changes in the way they handle things, as Mr. Honan told Renee Montagne on August 9.

There are also a number of things that users can do to reduce their likelihood of being hacked in a similar way. Both LifeHacker and Gizmodo provide a list of such measures, and those lists are well worth reading carefully.

It’s also really important, though, to think carefully about why and how we’re using such services to begin with. A non-exhaustive list of questions to ask ourselves about the data we work with every day might include the following:

  • Where do I need to have ready access to this item? What device(s) will I be using? What software?
  • What do I need to be able to do with the item once I have access to it?
  • What kind of information does the item contain?
  • Who owns the item? Whose information does it contain?
  • If the item contains information that belongs to someone else, or the item itself belongs to someone else, are there any potentially applicable laws (such as FERPA) that I need to be aware of?
  • Can I encrypt an item before storing it online? If so, how does that impact security? How does encryption impact the item’s usability?

Sorting through these types of questions can help us figure out what kinds of services (if any) to use for storing data online. It may well be that we’ll end up using a variety of services for different purposes, taking care to keep each as secure as possible. (For example: I use Dropbox for storing journal articles I want to read, since I have a lot of storage space there and it integrates very well with such tools as iAnnotate. Items that I need or want to be more secure live in Spideroak—I have less space there, but I don’t have that many things that really need more security than simple password protection. I keep all kinds of working documents in Google Drive, bt nothing that absolutely must remain wholly private.)

What about you? What services do you use for what purposes? Why those services rather than others? What steps do you take to keep your data as secure as possible? Let us know in the comments.

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by philentropist]

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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Killing Power Point: Effective Online Lectures Using Canvas tools

Are you anchored down by your PowerPoint presentations, but you don’t know how to untangle yourself from their grip? Be a Canvas power user and develop effective online lectures using tools in Canvas. View the session below from Instructure 2012, presented by Rebekah Grow of University of Utah where she talks about integrating tools in Canvas to create online lectures in combination with using a Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning: Implications for Design Principals (Meyer and Moreno) as a guideline for measuring its effectiveness.

Killing PowerPoint: Effective Online Lectures Using Canvas Tools, Rebekah Grow, University of Utah from Instructure on Vimeo.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Uncategorized