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Tip #1: Learn names. Jonathan Leonard (CDAE) makes the effort to learn every student’s name, even in classes with over 150 students! What’s his strategy? On the class roster page he displays the students’ photos and, while studying each face, he speaks their names aloud. Over and over. And over. Occasionally he shifts the page arrangement—by changing the row settings to, for instance, three across instead of five—and he keeps testing himself. He admits that it takes several practice sessions, but he claims the effort is well worth it. Students are astonished when he greets them by first name! A large class it may be, but an indistinct mass of anonymous faces it is not. Individuals are being recognized and this, he says, changes the whole game.
(By the way, Jonathan isn’t the only one to stress the value of learning names. Every year when the CTL holds a panel discussion with the latest winners of the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award, at least one of the panelists mentions that this practice is vital to their teaching style.)
Tip #2: Get students talking. Sheila Boland-Chira (English) recommends the turn and talk method in any class, but particularly on the first day when anxiety may be running a little high. She asks an evocative question related to the course topic and invites students to turn to their neighbors and talk about it. After a few minutes, she invites volunteers to share their thoughts with the whole group. Not only does the lively buzz change the atmosphere in the room, doing this on the first day lets students know that the class is participatory and that they are going to be challenged to think.
Tip #3 Make personal connections. Char Merhtens (Geology) asks students to come to her office and meet with her individually during the first week or two of the semester, just to say hi and chat for a few minutes. However, because there are 200+ students in one of her classes, visiting with everyone isn’t practicable, so she invites only the first-years and seniors, the two groups she feels would most benefit from this (although, for completely different reasons). Char says that this simple social gesture has paid off in countless ways and many students go out of their way to thank her.
Tip #4: It’s standard practice to review the syllabus on the first day of class, but a few faculty offered tips to make this ritual more meaningful:
- Before the first class meets, contemplate your schedule again and identify the overarching themes. When you review the syllabus on the first day, share this 10,000-foot view with your students and talk about how the key themes are woven throughout the schedule. This overview provides not only a conceptual map of the course, but a rationale for the work you are going to be asking them to do.
- Make the syllabus review more engaging by including interesting visual elements, e.g., drawings, concept maps, or a humorous cartoon. Consider playing music.
- Use Blackboard’s test tool to create a short quiz about the syllabus with multiple-choice type questions (so Blackboard will do the grading for you) and make it a mandatory assignment by the second day of class. Doing this gets them to delve deeper into the syllabus and you can review the stats in Blackboard before the next class, so you can touch upon any murky areas.
Tip #5: Finally, convey enthusiasm! J. Dickinson (Anthropology) offered what might be the most important tip for the first class and every class: that it’s crucial to communicate your excitement about what you teach. Even if you’re not teaching your dream course, you should be able to muster enthusiasm for it. Foundational or introductory-level courses are exciting when you consider the potential for learning and that you just may spark an interest that has a formative effect on someone’s life. Genuine enthusiasm can be infectious.
How do you use your iPad with a projector? For example, how do you project a slide show, make annotations, and display what you type on a screen? Are there other apps that allow for other interesting classroom activities?
You have an iPad, a vga cable, and a projector. Plug it all in and what happens? Not much. You will not be able to see your iPad screen on a projector. That is, you can’t just plug it into a projector and have it display, or mirror, whatever you are seeing or doing on the iPad. Instead of building into the iPad the ability to mirror its display, the projection function is available only at the application level. What does that mean for you? You will need to look for apps that include “vga” support, and those apps will display only certain screens in the app. Fortunately, the number of apps that support vga is growing.
Let’s start with some simple ones. If you want to display a web page on a projector, Safari won’t do it. The options are to use a different browser or another app that includes web browsing capabilities. Both Atomic Web ($.99) and Perfect Web ($2.99) are web browsers like Safari. Perfect Web has several additional features that make it well worth the $2.99. Tabs, hand gestures, and the ability to act like different kinds of browsers so you can display a web page to its best advantage are a few. Try it and you may never go back to Safari again.
Several apps include the ability to browse the web among their other functions. For example, GoodReader and iAnnotate are primarily designed for you to download, read and annotate PDF files but include the ability to display web pages as well. More on those below.
For displaying slide shows? Keynote is Apple’s slide show creator, and it does what it does elegantly and simply. However, while you can create and display your slides with Keynote (or import your PowerPoint or PDF files to edit and display) you cannot annotate your slides while projecting a slideshow. There are other apps that can. After trying out several I find myself returning most often to 2Screens ($4.99). This app allows you to call up ppt, pdf, rtf, even docx files and draw or write annotations on them. You can open several documents, then tab back and forth between these documents and a blank whiteboard to write additional notes. Notice I say write and draw, not type. The annotations that you can create with 2Screens are those which you do with a stylus or finger. There is a note feature built in so you can type and store notes in your slideshow. However, these notes are only visible to you–they are not displayed.
Any drawbacks? The annotations made in 2Screens are not saved with the presentation, but you can save a screenshot of each slide with its annotations. Another thing that might take some practise to get used to is the way 2Screens displays your ppt slides. You can choose to have it automatically create thumbnails of all slides. These are displayed to you but not projected, making it fairly easy to skip from slide to slide. Or, you can move from slide to slide by vertically scrolling. The practise part is necessary because you are ‘finger scrolling’ and so need to line the slides up to the screen as you go. It’s not hard, just something to be aware of. So, by all means, create in Keynote, but display and annotate in 2Screens.
If you want to do typed annotations on a slide show the choices are more limited. Infonet Presenter ($9.99) is similar to 2Screens in that you can open ppt pdf files and annotate them. It also lets you open a variety of image and video files, even xls files. You can annotate with finger/stylus drawing but it adds the ability to type in a text box that you draw on the screen. You can collect a variety of files and images, place them in a folder that you then use for a presentation. This is particularly nice if the slideshow is composed of many images; no more having to mess about with PowerPoint, dragging dropping and resizing, when you simply want to display lots of images. Just drag them all into a Librry in Infonet Presenter and away you go. This is a somewhat different approach to presenting material and the app as a whole has some quirks. So, worth a look but may not be precisely what you need.
So how can you project text as you type it? Surprisingly, presentation apps are not the best choice. Instead, take a look at some of the note-taking apps that are available. Some now come with vga support. My favorite at the moment is Noterize ($3.99), but PaperDeskLT ($1.99) is also worth a look.
Like the other annotation apps, Noterize let’s you open a variety of file types (ppt, pdf, txt, images or even snapshots of web pages) and then draw or write on them. If you insert a new blank page you can type on that page, or you can annotate a page with a text box into which you can type. There are several fonts and font sizes available as well as a handful of colors. You can even turn on audio recording and attach that recording to your notes. These notes can be exported to Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, Box.net, Dropbox, Email, or opened in any iPad apps that support “Open In” for these file types. To save a copy of the note with the audio intact, you save it as a pdf+audio file that will be transferred and accessible through iTunes.
PaperDeskLT is a similar product, simpler and less fully-featured than Noterize but contains the basics: text, drawing, audio that can be stored on the iPad or stored and synced with an account at paperdesk. It takes a slightly different approach to vga display: you need to create the notes as a “vga whiteboard” to display them, that is, when creating a new note you can choose the standard notebook or a vga whiteboard. You cannot simply display any notebook that you have created.
Other notable vga apps? Penultimate ($1.99), the handwriting and annotating app is a delight. No typing, but everything else works simply and smoothly. As mentioned above, iAnnotate ($9.99) and GoodReader ($2.99) both have vga display capabilities. Both are wonderful at storing and organizing your files. GoodReader annotations are particularly good because you can send the annotated files to yourself or others by email, with the annotations stored directly on them. Another plus is the way you get files into GoodReader. I find the apps that have to talk to iTunes are just annoying. GoodReader can access files by webdav, through a web browser, by email, etc. And, once the files are in GoodReader you can project them or a simple “Open in” command lets you open the files right in 2Screens for projecting and annotating. Fast. Easy.
And then there is AirSketch ($7.99). All of the apps mentioned above work with your projector by plugging your iPad into the projector itself. AirSketch takes a different approach. You connect a laptop to the projector, fire up a browser on the laptop (must be HTML5 compatible, like Firefox, Safari, Chrome), direct the browser to the address AirSketch tells you, then walk away from the laptop. You carry the iPad around the room and write on the iPad screen from wherever you are. What you write will be appear on the laptop screen and be projected from there. You can open pdf files, open ppt files that have been saved as pdf, or open images and annotate all those as well. Since the display is your laptop, you can even start a screencasting program on that laptop and capture what you are drawing or writing on your iPad as it is being displayed on the projector. The educational possibilities are obvious: project a piece of code, a formula, some grammatical errors or piece of writing, pass the iPad around and have students annotate what’s on the screen up front. Have students draw graphs on the iPad and project those. This one definitely deserves a look.
So, there’s a quick round up of some of the current vga enabled apps. If you are a UVMer and would like to see any of these in action just let me know. I’d be happy to show them to you (firstname.lastname@example.org). And for a little screencast of AirSketch in action, here you go: AirSketch
Our first roundtable on the iPad, “iPads for Scholars,” was held at the Center for Teaching and Learning, Wednesday, 9/8/2010. As one might expect, the web has been awash with articles, opinions, and comments about the iPad. Here are a few, from a variety of sources, that address some of the issues and in so doing represent common themes and memes. Some are enthusiastic, some are naysayers, some seem to be clear attempts at ‘first kids on the block’ headline grabbers:
Notre Dame Launches First Paperless ‘iPad Class’ - By Timon Singh, Inhabitat, Sept. 7, 2010
How Schools are Putting the IPad to Work - By Joel Mathis (of Macworld), PCWorld, Aug. 26, 2010
iPad: The New Big Gadget on Campus – By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun, Aug. 22, 2010
50 Useful Resources for Students With an iPad – Accredited Online Colleges Blog, July 27, 2010 (links)
Apple’s iPad Goes to College – By Chris Foresman, cnn.com, July 26, 2010
iPad for Education Revisited – By Lee Wilson, The Education Business Blog, June 2, 2010
First iPad University Course: An Interview with Eric Greenburg of Notre Dame – By The eLearning Coach, May 16, 2010
iPad more resources on whether it is any good in the classroom – By David Hopkins, elearning blog don’t waste your time, May 7, 2010 (with links and quotes from others)
University Presses Get Creative in an iPad World – By Hannah Elliott, Forbes.com, May 6, 2010
Will the iPad Revolutionize Higher Education? – By Adam Peck, Think Magazine, April 21, 2010
University to Provide iPads for All New Students – By Lauren Indvik, The Mashable Apple, March 30, 2010
The iPad and the Historian – By Sean Kheraj, Canadian History and Environment, January, 28, 2010
iPads in Education – an ongoing NING with links and comments from many
Next up: What’s on your iPad?
The Center for Cultural Pluralism will celebrate its 10 year anniversary on January 29, 2009. The Center has announced their spring programming, which includes guest speakers Dr. Lee Kneflekamp speaking on “MicroAgressions in the Classroom” (Jan. 30) and Dr. Scott Page, “The Science of Complex Systems and Systems Scholarship” (Feb 2009). For a full list of films, workshops and events visit their web site.
The Economist (Economist.Com) is sponsoring a series of debates on the future of education. Each debate topic considers the educational impacts of technology, globalization, and changing nature of social relationships. The third (and final) debate, which runs from from January 15th through January 25th, focuses on “social networking,” specifically on the proposition :
The debate is based on an online variant of the Oxford Debate rules – each speaker has three chances to advance his view – an opening statement, a rebuttal, and a final summary. Observers (who must register) may participate, mainly though a discussion with the moderator who will raise relevant points to the debaters. In addition, Observers may also vote for the side of the proposition they most agree with.
The University of Vermont is now a member of Educause’s Learning Initiative (ElI).
ELI explores the interaction among learners, learning principles and practices, and learning technologies. Membership benefits include reduced rates on ELI events and access to all resources on their web site, including archived web seminars and podcasts.
There are three upcoming events that may interest you:
January 14: Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0 (online event)
January 28 – 30: ELI 2008 Annual Meeting – Connecting and Reflecting: Preparing Learners for Life 2.0 (San Antonio, TX)
March 18 – 19: Real World and Technology-Rich: Learning by Doing, Learning in Context (Raleigh, NC)
To access ELI resources and register for events, you will need to set up a member profile that connects you as an UVM affiliate. Go to the the Educause home page and follow the directions in the “Manage your personal profile” (under the “What would you like to do?” section).
We hope that you will explore the resources on the ELI site. If you find these resources valuable and/or are interested in attending an event, please let us know.
On Sunday (November 25, 2007), Justin Pope interviewed a number of university faculty to explore how faculty and students are handling the large lecture class. He begins his article with some telling comments with Carl Wieman, University of Colorado Nobel Laureate (Physics, 2001) who observes:
Students often tune out and are turned off. Charismatic lecturers get good reviews but, the data show, are no more effective than others at making the most important concepts stick.
Most remarkably, when it comes to teaching not just “facts” but conveying to students the scientific approach to problem-solving, research shows that students end up thinking less like professionals after completing these classes than when they started.
“In a very real way, you’re doing damage with these courses,” Wieman, now a leading voice for reform, said in a recent interview.”
The article then provides a nice exploration of the scope of the issue as well as how several colleges are dealing with the recognized problems in the lecture format class through a variety of pedagogical, technological, and institutional reforms.
Thanks to Beverly Wemple, Department of Geography, for suggesting this article.
Article: Justin Pope, Colleges Cope with Bigger Classes, The Associated press. http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=3908417
Image: Steve Helber, Students use computers in the Virginia Tech Math Emporium in Blacksburg, Va., Thursday, April 5, 2007. AP Photo. http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=3908417