Day 29: How YOU doin?

2 11 2009

Today we tested my theory that we were still having connectivity problems in our classroom. As class began, I asked all the students with iPhones to switch from wi-fi to 3G. Some of them had been doing this already, since it seemed to alleviate some of the connectivity issues they experienced. Naturally, I had a few students who did not know how to make this switch, and I told them it was not a big deal. Once half the class was switched over, connectivity was smooth for the rest of the day.

We took a quiz today using Survey Gizmo; I e-mailed the link to the class just before starting time, then provided the password in class. Note to self: send the link earlier in the day so they all have it already resident on their devices. This just saves the hassle of two or three having to find it during class time.

For me, one of the huge drawbacks of large class sections is the difficulty in gauging how the students are doing. In particular, my first-semester freshmen are at some risk of getting lost in the crowd, falling behind, and giving up. Read the rest of this entry »


Day 23: Self-cleaning tracks

14 10 2009

Today we started class with an event I call “show me your apps”. I demonstrated one silly game I had downloaded, then invited students to show off their favorites,  using the document camera to demonstrate for the class. One student demo’ed a shooting game called “Space Beef,” and a second showed us an app that does nothing but make gun sounds(?). A third demonstrated an app that swaps people’s faces in pictures, and he shared us a really creepy shot of the guy and girl he sits next to, each wearing the other one’s body and hair. The fourth actually sang for us, using an auto-tuner app (that would be T Pain if you’re young, Cher if you’re older) to tweak his voice and provide a background beat. While sorely tempted to grab the iPhone and join in, I restrained myself.

Today marked the official halfway point of the semester, and I conducted a small experiment. I checked attendance (manually, as part of my ongoing efforts to create a smooth automated system), then I announced that students could leave class without penalty. I also announced that those who stayed would be expected to sit at the front and participate, after which I left the room for two minutes. I returned to find the room….. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 17: Pay for Play??

30 09 2009

Okay, being a business professor I decided to solve my attendance-checking problem by appealing to the most fundamental of human instincts: greed. I offered any student in my class $100 if they could come up with a plan. Their solution had to allow me to check roll for 70 students in less than two minutes. It could use technology, but did not have to. And it had to input the data automatically. In short, I decided to outsource my problem. Plus, I like seeing their eyes light up when I say the words “$100 cash.”. I give this 1 chance in 4 of working, but why not try it? Immediately afterward several showed up to suggest things like sign-in sheets (too easy to cheat) or having students check each other (too easy to cheat) or an honor system (too easy to cheat).

One suggested using “Bump” to let them all log in as they walked into class; in theory this is great, but Bump only promises that data is exchanged in 10 seconds or less, which makes roll-check a 12 minute exercise in my large section. One suggested magnetic card swipes, but didn’t know about the expense involved or how to integrate it with my system. He said he’d get back to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 15: What’s up Doc?

25 09 2009

My old method of taking attendance was an EPIC FAIL! Okay, that’s an exaggeration—it was perfectly functional, but a major pain to administer.  I had the students send an email to a drop box I set up on gmail (like or something) and include a subject line I gave them in class. What I had visualized was that my student worker could open the Gmail account, sort the messages by sender, and quickly find which ones were missing. Alas, in reality you can’t easily sort a column of messages in Gmail (at least I can’t) so it winds up being a manual seek-and-find to locate the ones who weren’t in the list. Workable, but not at all smooth or efficient. Time for roll-checking, part deux. Read the rest of this entry »