Teach Better

Carl Wieman Practices What He Preaches

- - posted in teaching

I’ve been teaching by the seat of my pants for almost 9 years now. I try new things in the classroom and pay attention to whether they work. And I like to think I have decent instincts. What I haven’t done until this summer is invest serious time reading research on teaching and learning. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to spend 6 intensive days at Stanford studying with Carl Wieman (and about 40 like minded people) at his first ever summer Departmental Education Specialist Training Workshop.

Podcast Episode 62: Reinventing Science Labs with Natasha Holmes

- - posted in episode, labs, physics, podcast

Our guest is Natasha Holmes, an Assistant Professor in the Cornell Physics Department who specializes in physics education research. For the last several years, Natasha has been figuring out ways to increase the amount students learn in science labs. While some students find traditional lab courses to be transformative experiences, many more find them to be mindless recipe following exercises. In this episode, Natasha shares her experience with a new kind of science lab that gets students thinking critically, carefully, and creatively. We also talk about the value of doing educational research in our disciplines.

Podcast Episode 61: The Future of Educational Technology

- - posted in edtech, edtechsummer, episode, podcast

In this blockbuster finale of #edtechsummer, Edward and Doug invite three experts to share their thoughts on the future of educational technology. Michael Feldstein (e-Literate and Mindwires Consulting) reminds us that technology should serve pedagogy and suggests some sensible criteria which we can use to evaluate new products. Matthew Rascoff (Duke Center for Instructional Technology talks specifically about the future of the Learning Management System (LMS) and the potential for edtech to help students connect with each other. Bryan Alexander (independent futurist) steps back to ponder the broader impact of technology on higher education. All in all, this is one of our most thought-provoking episodes.

Podcast Episode 60: Low-Tech Alternatives

- - posted in edtech, edtechsummer, episode, podcast

Edward and Doug discuss several low-tech alternatives to technology products they’ve discussed in earlier episodes of #edtechsummer. Laminated color-coded cards and Plickers let you poll your class without any student-held electronics. Atiyeh Showrai joins us from the USC French language program to talk about their experience creating an e-workbook using just Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat. Then Quirine Ketterings (Cornell) shares the role-play game she plays at the end of term in her Whole Farm Nutrient Management class.

Podcast Episode 59: Games and Simulations in the Classroom

- - posted in edtech, edtechsummer, episode, podcast

Economists study systems where individuals make decisions about buying, selling, and investment, and interesting patterns emerge. As in many disciplines, they teach by developing theory and pointing to examples in the real world, but it’s not always very convincing. Doing simulations and playing games in class lets students participate and see for themselves where the theory does and does not apply. Our guests Bob Gazzale (Toronto) and Matt Olczak (Aston) do this in their classes using three different web platforms: Moblab, economics-games.com, and vEconlab. In this episode they share their experiences with each.

Podcast Episode 58: Digital Textbooks

- - posted in edtech, edtechsummer, episode, podcast

In the latest installment of #edtechsummer we focus on digital textbooks. These products go far beyond simple digital versions of the text, and often include embedded quizzes, smart highlighting, note taking, and interactive figures, all on top of attractive formatting. The big publishers have come a long way in the past few years. Catherine Medrano (College of the Sequoias) shares her experience teaching with Pearson Revel, Kate Antonovics (UCSD) tells us about McGraw-Hill SmartBook, and Stephanie Thomas (Cornell) explains what she and her students liked (and didn’t like) about the Cengage MindTap. Along the way we compare features, pricing, and availability of content.

Podcast Episode 57: Classroom Response Systems

- - posted in edtech, edtechsummer, episode, podcast

In our first Summer 2017 edtech episode, we talk about classroom response systems, aka clickers. We’re joined by three guests who have each used a different product extensively in their classes. First, Jenny Wissink (Cornell) shares how she uses iClicker to assess students’ understanding of pre-class video. Next, Bonni Stachowiak (Vanguard and the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast) explains why and how PollEverywhere gets students engaged. Finally, Susan Reilly (Florida State, Jacksonville) talks about how much fun her students have with Kahoot! Along the way we tell you what tools might be the best fit in different situations and how to get started with each tool.

Edtech Summer

- - posted in edtech, podcast, teaching

Edward and I are doing something different this summer on the Teach Better Podcast. Instead of our usual hour-long in-depth conversations with faculty, we’re focusing each episode on a separate category of educational technology tools and including several mini-interviews. Tomorrow we’ll publish our first episode on classroom response systems (aka “clickers”).

Playing Games in Class

- - posted in economics, games, teaching

Economic theory can be pretty dry for many students. This spring I decided to incorporate participatory games and simulations into my intermediate microeconomics class to make the material more concrete and the class a little more fun. We played an imperfect competition game on the first day, and then three more during the term. It went well, but there are some key tweeks I want to make next time around.