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Archive for the ‘higher ed’ Category

iCranky

There’s a lot of talk in higher education circles about where technology fits in education these days, with the continuing expansion of online courses and degree programs and continually evolving tools, from mp3 players to social networking sites.

In an Inside Higher Ed column entitled, iCranky, Laurence Musgrove,an associate professor of English and foreign languages at Saint Xavier University, is another voice in favor of judicious use of technology in education.

What our students need is not more of what they come in the door with. They don’t need more of the same in the same way they got it before. They need to be confronted with people who talk about ideas that matter. They need to become people who can confront and talk to other people about ideas that matter. They need to sit in a room of people and learn about humanity.

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Most of us have participated in a course—either as a student or instructor—that required online discussions. Just as can happen when classes meet face-to-face, some discussions take off and others fall flat. In eLearn Magazine, Richard Dool offers insight into ensuring that online course discussions are productive opportunities for learning.

The “dialogue intensive” model is built around the notion that much of the learning occurs with active instructor-student and student-student interaction. An initial discussion question is posed as a foundation, and as students respond and the instructor engages the discussion is extended through the sharing of professional experiences, personal insights, and other source materials. It is not atypical in a dialogue-intensive model for a week’s unit to have 150-plus postings in a 10-student class.

Dool emphasizes the need for both faculty and students to acknowledge that quality counts as much as quantity of postings in online discussions. He offers one example of a quality posting rubric:

A quality posting has several characteristics. It is germane, succinct, and clear, ideally less than 150 words. It refers to the course material in an appropriate manner and also may make use of relevant outside material. Its main point or thesis is further supported by an example or experience that helps translate the application of the material. It adds or extends the discussion.

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James Lang, in a Chronicle of Higher Education column, “A Brain and a Book,” takes up Marc Prenksy’s “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.”

Lang presents the premise on which Prensky’s conclusions are based:

The title pretty much says it all: Our students are digital natives who have grown up in the land of technology and know no other way of operating in the world. Those of us who are a generation or two ahead of them are digital immigrants, who grew up in a different kind of world and now have to bumble our way around with our guidebooks. However comfortable we may eventually become with technology, we will remain immigrants, never as connected to the land as the natives.

And having been challenged by Prensky, thoughtfully progresses to his own conclusion:

Let’s welcome the pedagogical innovations of Prensky and his collaborators, but let’s give equal respect to George Justice and his class of students holding books and pens. Our students can learn equally well from both kinds of classrooms, and which one is used should depend upon the subject, the teacher, and the students. . . .

So let’s make use of the technologies that seem appropriate and effective, but let’s not neglect to remind students that, for their own good and that of the planet, sometimes they need to find a pocket of nature or an unplugged classroom somewhere, and sit there with nothing but a brain and a book.

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Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University provides this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.

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According to this article over at Inside Higher Ed:

As the green campus movement continues to sprout, it’s not just administrators who are pledging to spend bucks on energy-efficient buildings and renewable resources.

Students at a growing number of colleges are voting to increase their own fees to start environmental sustainability funds.

A “green fee” seems a perfect fit for ANE. Any takers?

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Teaching Naked

In Teaching Naked: Why Removing Technology from your Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, José Bowen argues that technology can be employed most effectively outside the classroom, freeing class time for substantive discussions among students and faculty that increase learning.

Flashy powerpoints with video and synchronous e-conferences are impressive, but the best reason to adopt technology in your courses is to increase and improve your naked, untechnological face-to-face interaction with students. Technology is often accused of pushing people further apart (the interaction is really with a computer screen and not another human being, they say) but a few minutes of questions at the end of an hour covering material from behind a podium is hardly an interactive experience either. However, simple, new technologies can greatly increase your students’ engagement outside of the classroom and thus prepare them for real discussions (even in the very largest classes) by providing content and assessment before class time. The goal, in other words, is to use technology to free yourself from the need to “cover” the content in the classroom, and instead use class time to demonstrate the continued value of direct student to faculty interaction and discussion.

From Tomorrow’s Professor Blog.

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According to Inside Higher Ed:

We talk about graduate education as a kind of national treasure,” Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, told her audience at the Library of Congress on Thursday. “What’s new is that other countries have discovered our secret.”

Those introductory remarks, at a forum on a new report, set the tone for the panels that followed. Members of Congress, university presidents, graduate-school deans and corporate leaders convened to pledge support for an increased investment in graduate education — what the report, “Graduate Education: The Backbone of American Competitiveness and Innovation,” called “necessary to enhance U.S. innovation and national security.

Read the full story.

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