Day 4: Paper Moans

31 08 2009

Day 4 was our first semi-normal class day. In other words, all my predictions about how much more efficient my teaching would be with connected learning tools are turning out to be completely wrong, since I basically killed a full week getting us all up to speed on the course tools and technologies. Hmmm…

Today we started with a “teacher trivia” event, in which I placed multiple-choice questions about me on the screen and students guessed the answers; this item is normally done on Day 1, but our limited time that day didn’t accommodate it. This event used a very basic classroom response system (Nanotools, see links) which allows question creation on the fly. It went nicely for five questions, then crashed. We finished out the exercise in the traditional way, asking volunteers to answer. Not so ‘connected’ today…

As we launched into a discussion of economic systems, I used the ‘word cloud’ module of Nanotools, asking the students to give me words which describe “the ideal economic system.” Or at least that’s what I planned to do. Word cloud did not want to participate today, and according to my students, this wasn’t the first time. So we did this the old-fashioned way as well.

The most interesting part of this class period occurred when the students were preparing to take their second reading quiz. As soon as I told them this quiz was on paper, audible moans went up throughout the room, suggesting even to the least observant that perhaps they had a preference for the electronic version. This was interesting to me, particularly given the extremely ugly interface on Blackboard and the latency and responsiveness problems we encountered. Later I’ll discuss the results of a survey on this topic, and you can read my personal musings on generational differences in the “paper or plastic” debate as it applies to reading (link here eventually).

I did see one or two students turning the paper quiz sideways, into landscape mode, to see if it made any of the questions easier….it didn’t.

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