Friday, September 23, 2011

Note Taking The Lost Art of Listening

In today's world surrounded by technology and what it looks like an infinite source of information note taking has become a lost art. Even the Ivy League institutions are aware of this phenomenon and have been developing technique for good note taking. Harvard has the Harvard Note Taking System that it looks is based on the Standford University's Center for Teaching and Learning.

For many students the use of a laptop during class for taking notes has become standard, but is it really helping them with note taking? Or is it more likely a distraction? We are in a wireless environment and mobile devises can and normally do connect to the Internet making it almost impossible to concentrate on what is happening during class.

Some of the questions I have asked are:
How can I optimize the use of these devises during class in enhance learning?
Is there a way that technology can help learning during a lecture?
How can the synchronous-asynchronous teaching-learning dichotomy can be resolved with the use of technology?

Let's spend some time clarifying these questions. We know that the technology is here and is evolving continuosly. Some of the devices are short lived therefore developing a strategy based on those might be time consuming and not very efficient. The technology available is diverse so working on developing a strategy bases on a particular platform might not apply to a different platform and might make some students feel that they are being pushed to a side. Some technologies and platforms have so many different applications that keeping track of one is hindered by the presence of the others, such is the case with word procesors in a computer that has also email, and other social media softwar like facebook. At the same time the use of social media might enhance the motivation of the student to be on top of the issues discussed in the class.
The presence of the student physically and mentally in the class is another issue with the interaction between the teacher and the student. While the teacher might be present and focused on a particular topic -the one s/he is teaching the student on the other hand might be mentally far away either day dreaming or through the Internet on her/his computer in front of him/her.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The fourth week

This is critical week when teaching science because students start to feel overwhelmed. In any science class there is new vocabulary and new syntax. So how to you express a chemical reaction as an algebraic equation that has meaning beyond the mathematical solution. How can we see if the result obtained from solving the arithmetic relationship makes sense in "our world" in our language?
So at this moment in our course I pause and take some time to make sure that all are onboard, that we have some homogeneity in the level or degree of understanding, especially important when students come from a diverse background. The three main tools I use for this purpose are: face to face conversation allotting time for a one-to-one 15 minute talk during lab time; online questionaire through our Moodle site where they have to reply to a survey; and thrirdly through a practice or sample test I have posted on our iLearn site and they have access too.
At this time making the enphatic statement that they are in control of their learning becomes the focus of their education.