Teaching with Technology Follow-up

Since readers of The Long Eighteenth were so helpful in discussing their classroom technology policies, I am posting a link to my article, Sir Fopling Flutter 2.0, about my gradual integration (and dis-integration) of various forms of connectivity.


5 responses to “Teaching with Technology Follow-up

  1. Dave Mazella

    Laura, nice piece. We’ve discussed some of these issues in the past, but the article allows me to see the development of your thought about the use of tech in this course. I think we arrived independently at certain insights about teaching this kind of material: blogs or other kinds of nonsynchronous discussion help keep students engaged over a semester, especially when they involve some kind of low-stakes online writing; group work mediated through the online forum helps to foster engagement, too; pairing up research and writing activities with brief reports helps encourage better work, and so forth. I’ve been using portfolios and incremental assignments for some time for all the reasons you adduce, but it never occurred to me before that they helped reduce the emotional strain of grading for the prof. I think this is right, and also why I’ve gravitated toward similar practices, but it hadn’t occurred to me. This might be a way to persuade other faculty members to try these kinds of practices out: they actually make the grading portion of the course less onerous.

    The usual practice in these kinds of pieces is to talk about “what works,” but I’m also curious about what aspects of your courses you feel as if you’re still struggling with. What teaching challenges do you feel you need to keep working on or thinking about?

  2. Laura Rosenthal

    Hi Dave,
    Yes, that’s a good point. These articles are always about what worked and not about what you haven’t solved. Here are just a few things that I haven’t solved and would love some suggestions:

    1. Texting in class. I had a student this summer who would add her own comment to the discussion and them immediately start texting, which sort of killed the momentum and inadvertently, I think, expressed contempt to whatever anyone else would say in response. I emailed her more than once about this, but maybe a more aggressive approach is appropriate here.
    2. Reconciling the real and virtual world. This is epitomized by students saying “did you get my email”? I often can’t spontaneously connect something that happened on line with something happening in reality.
    3. Keeping the material fresh without becoming overwhelmed.
    4. A kind of excess of “screen time” that this way of teaching has created for me.
    5. All the tracking of student work that this method requires.
    6. Often students don’t fully understand the draft concept. They often think of it as a “rough” draft, no matter how many times I try to explain otherwise. Also, sometimes they feel frustrated because even after my comments on the first draft, they still can’t produce a really good second draft. This, actually, frustrates me as well.
    7. The eternal problem of having students at very different levels. I still have not solved this one, although the draft process really helps here.

    I’m sure there are more than seven, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind!

  3. Eleanor Shevlin

    Great piece, Laura–thanks for sharing with us.

    I’ve used Word-tracking for about six years now–both for the draft as you describe and for final papers. (Both help also when doing recommendations several years later). I don’t use a separate DropBox account though–but the feature in BlackBoard and now “D2L” (our new system–Desire 2 Learn). But perhaps that’s what you meant–I forget what BB calls it.Yet, I downloaded the paper from the submission box and create a folder on my flash drive labeled according to class and paper #, and specifying “draft.”
    I’ve not completely solved the problem of a so-so second draft (a problem often tied to your point 7). Yet, taking time in class to discuss the process and my expectations have resulted in better second submissions.

    For repeat offenders of texting (or the like), I stop–in midsentence if need be–and ask the person to please stop because it is distracting me and rude to everyone in class. And then I continue on… I typically receive an apology after class.

  4. Laura Rosenthal

    Thanks for these good ideas; your strategy about texting sounds like a particularly good one.

  5. Eleanor Shevlin

    I was hesitant at first to handle texting in this way–but I just became fed up with this distracting behavior. The results have been positiive. I have more of a problem when students use only an electronic text (Blackwell’s Companion to Book History) rather than buy the text because some toggle back and forth between the text and their email or Facebook page. My colleagues and I have also noticed that more and more students seem to need to step out of class (a 75 minute one), and we have concluded that many are not headed to the restroom but are isntead responding to messages and not wanting to text in class.