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Entries in 2011 TechDayPlus (13)

Wednesday
Jul062011

2011 TechDayPlus: Simon Bibby

The following is a summary of the presentation given by Simon Bibby

Investigating student preferences, proficiency and usage patterns: PCs versus cell phones

By Simon Bibby

Coming from a school teaching background, my research interests tend to the more directly practical.  As part of a larger research project (n= 101) I conducted in February 2009 at a private women’s university in western Japan, I investigated student usage of PCs and cell phones. The part of the research I reported here had a threefold aim, examining:

(1) student usage of cell phones and PCs
(2) student preferences
(3) preferences for tool of choice for university English homework.

I presented the results of the research, noting the following key findings:

  • Students reported themselves to be expert cell phone users, but (very) low proficiency users of PCs.
  • The majority of student communications were via their cell phones: cell phone use for emailing, SNS and blogging predominated.
  • Students accessed the internet more via their cell phones (60%)than via their PCs (40%).
  • Given the choice to keep only one of the two tools, 92 of the 101 students preferred to keep their cell phone rather than PC.
  • Regarding homework preference, 67 respondents indicated a preference to use cell phones, 2 for cell phone and PC, 25 for PC, 7 for the more traditional paper and textbook.

The main reasons for the stated preference for cell phones over PCs were portability, speed (PCs take time to boot – far too long for students), and blanket internet access.

Further to the findings I gave a quick overview of the mobile learning literature, noting both the potential benefits and challenges for institutions, teaching staff and students of moving toward mobile learning. I suggested that a fundamental required change lies in the abandonment of the anachronistic overheated, cramped room of tethered devices, the PC room, to an increased number of more open and dispersed learning spaces/ learning places.  

Brief post-presentation discussion focused on the affordances of tablet devices, notably the new iPad 2; comparisons between cell phones, smartphones, tablets, netbooks and laptops; and the need to physically and cognitively chunk learning materials for differing devices.

Tuesday
Jul052011

2011 TechDayPlus: By William Hogue 1/3

The following is a summary of the presenation given by William Hogue

Flip your classroom with Google

By William Hogue

I described a problem situation; university science students repeating a required English writing course in a computer lab with “materials” consisting of only PowerPoint slideshows (PPT). I reviewed a previous solution, that of converting the PPT materials to PDFs and then posting them to a shared folder on the university network. From there, students could print them or save them for self-study.  This was a reasonably successful approach, I believe because the PDFs were more accessible to the students than the PPTs, but I felt that more could be done with both distribution and content.

While researching possible solutions, I discovered Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sam’s “Flipped Classroom”. These two high school chemistry teachers deliver their classes by “vodcast” (video podcast). They then devote class time to hands-on work (chemistry labs, assisting individual students). They report that this “flipping” of lecture and homework has resulting in substantial improvements in outcome. (See the videos embedded in the Google Presentation here: https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AZBhVL1oR0oOZGhrNjhtcHZfMmRkN2NkN2Zk) I then reported using a Google Sites website to accomplish a similar flip. I provide course materials as web pages or as PDFs attached to those pages, but now I also include videos (from YouTube) and interactive grammar review lessons (from BBC Learning English). Class time is now used for “writing workshop” time. I also expanded the system to include two reading courses, using similar procedures.

Finally I showed photos of group work in reading classes and displayed some student writing samples in Google Docs. I reported observing students accessing the videos and interactive lessons during class and also going back to review earlier material during workshop time. Attendance in the “repeater writing” class is very good and the students do revisions online after I leave feedback.

Tuesday
Jul052011

2011 TechDayPlus: By William Hogue 2/3

The following is a summary of the presentation given by William Hogue

Course websites with Google Sites

By William Hogue

In this session I tried to assist everyone in getting started on building a class website with Google Sites. Google Sites offers privacy, ease of use, pre-made templates, and integration with YouTube, RSS feeds and Google Docs and all through a HTML-free interface (similar to blogging). I shared tips on setting up, developing and managing a Google Site.

Perhaps the most difficult and time-consuming task is setting up a Google account. Some of the participants had trouble with the email authentication loop, probably related to the use of spam filters.

We only had time to dabble with Sites in the most basic way. One interesting result is that the “choose a template” step was seen to be a lot more trouble that it is worth. This stems from the very large number of templates that are available with almost no mechanism to sort out which ones are most useful for creating a course site. In the end, the consensus was that starting with a blank template and adding content and styles would be a preferred procedure.

Once logged on and actually working with the content interface, most people agreed that Google Sites represents a big improvement over previous free website builders.