Thursday, February 3, 2011

No Student Laptops Permitted in this Course. Really?

Symptomatic of the change I have made in the way I approach my classes was crystallized for me several months ago when a group of my favorite professor colleagues asserted that they now prohibit students using laptops during class sessions. Previously, I had done the same thing.

I meekly observed that I have decided to move in the opposite direction, intentionally building my classes around the use of student laptops to take advantage of the extraordinary riches--carefully chosen--of the Internet, that "virtual" knowledge which is available at their fingertips.

A prohibition of laptops represented--I will speak just for myself--my prior approach to teaching: professor-centered, lecture-oriented, cover-as-much-of-the-material-as-possible. Taking this approach, it made sense to remove the distraction for the student that his or her laptop represented. They would not be giving ME their full attention.

My feeling is one of being all alone. It is scary but somehow I feel it right for me at this stage of my career. I am certainly convinced it is right for my students. But I still am scared.

What is your reaction? Am I right to pursue my approach?

Getting Back into My Blogging

I am very embarrassed that I have neglected this blog. For the last year I devoted time to perfecting (in so far as possible) my wiki.

In the last few days, I have begun to use Twitter more regularly.

Maybe one of the last in society to do so, I am now on Facebook, with both a profile and a page.

Since my HP laptop has no built-in webcam, I purchased a Logitech webcam--which I am still trying to learn how to use and intend to get active with Skype. Eventually I hope to use it in my classroom to connect with our students in semester-abroad locations. For now I will limit myself to practicing with my wife and several close-by colleagues.

I have begun to use my recently-purchased Coolpix digital camera and have learned to upload pictures to my laptop. The dumb picture of me I am using at the moment for all my external websites was one I had taken of me for a passport picture. Maybe I can manage to update my image a bit with my Coolpix.

I need to begin commenting on blogs and thanking others for what I have learned from them.