Seeing as I could not actually attend the web meeting on module 1, I’d like to offer some of my responses to some of the questions and topics discussed via blog post.
This module of ITAP has certainly not been my first exposure to Twitter, in fact I have been a fairly consistent Twitter user for the past few years. The appeal of Twitter for me is keeping in touch with a community. This has been extremely useful in my personal life and using it for ITAP has allowed me to see a use for Twitter in my professional/academic life as well (this has got me thinking a lot about how we separate our personal and professional presences online, but that’s another topic entirely). Anyway, my point (you can tell I want to be professor by how easily I get off topic) is that Twitter is a phenomenal tool for building communities, and I think that it has the potential to be incredibly useful within ITAP for keeping us all connected with each others ideas.
I thoroughly agree that, if not used properly, technology can be a huge hindrance in the classroom. I witnessed this frequently in high school with the introduction of Smartboards, many of my teachers would spend half the class trying to figure out how to use the technology, which was distracting and made the class feel disorganized, not exactly the ideal learning environment. I experienced this again last semester when my statistics professor attempted to teach us how to use R and SPSS, which she didn’t really know how to use, or at least how to teach the use of. The difference between Smartboards and statistical software, however, is that students really need to know how to use the statistical software, in fact, many students took the class with the intention of learning how to use the software. Using Smartboards and Clickers isn’t crucial in the classroom, especially if the instructor is distracted by figuring out how to actually use them, however, if the goal is to create a more tech-literate student body we may need instructors to be more tech-literate.
On the topic of students using laptops/tablets/phones in the classroom, I agree with something that Ice said during the meeting: “You should be using all your bandwidth.” While multitasking is great for getting a lot done quickly, it’s not so great for getting a lot done effectively. One is simply going to get more from a class if they focus at completely as possible on it (and if you’re not trying to really get something from a class, why are you there?). Furthermore, studies have shown that not only does watching funny cat videos lower the grades of the person watching them, but those sitting around them understood the lecture material less as well. Saying no to all computers in the classroom, however, could pose a serious barrier to having a more accessible classroom. While I handwrite notes in class as much as possible, I suffer from joint inflammation in my hand and wrist that can often make it very painful to write, so I find myself needing to use my laptop when that flares up. There are many people with much more severe physical barriers to learning for whom the use of laptops and tablets can make the classroom a more accessible place. In a world where every student is eager to optimize their learning this isn’t a problem, but because this isn’t the case and many teachers do not allow laptops in the classroom for this reason, maintaining the classroom as an accessible space needs to be kept in the discussion about the use of technology in the classroom.
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