I love the first day of class and a new semester! It represents a time to connect with new students, experiment with new ways to teach material, implement/refine active teaching strategies, and start a new Workspace in Slack. Wait, what?
For those who don’t know Slack, it is my pleasure to introduce you. Slack is a self-contained communication tool that is ideal for managing messages, files, and almost all other forms of digital shareables. If you are familiar with and enjoy GroupMe, then you already understand the basic functionality of Slack. They both allow for streamlined communication among groups; however, Slack is a more business-friendly tool due to its advanced document capabilities, search functionality, professional user interface, and multitude of app integrations.
Free and deeply discounted textbooks have been around for many years, but availability, licensing, and quality have been concerns. In the spring 2018 semester, I used a free open educational resource (OER) textbook for the first time. This post is a review of the textbook and additional thoughts on OER in general.
The obvious benefit to using OER is that they are “free.” As an economist, I do realize there is no such thing as free - think opportunity costs, social vs. private returns, and spillovers.
A recent article in the Tech Edvocate asked the question: How do you think EdTech companies can strive for better student outcomes? This question, of course, invokes a multitude of additional questions about student performance outcomes and what educational behaviors correlate with them. First, let’s take a look at some of the latest research. In a paper by Brown and Kurzweil (2017), they discuss proven determinants of positive student outcomes:
improvement of teaching quality,
active and engaging pedagogical practices,
participation in faculty development,
remedial course redesign,
increased student course-taking in the first year, and
I teach a yearly Professional Development class, in which I often implore students to put their phones to work for them. I warn students that smart phones can be a terrible master if they allow it. I am not alone with this claim. Recent research from the University of Texas found:
“It didn’t matter whether a person’s smartphone was turned on or off, or whether it was lying face up or face down on a desk. Having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone.
Flipgrid is a remarkable video capture app, which is particularly useful in an online classroom. I first tried Flipgrid in fall 2017 with my face to face classes. It went well, but I was not inspired to sing its praises until after my recent experience this summer when I taught online. What was the difference, you ask? In a face to face class, you easily have the ability to assess student learning through standard means (class discussions, written assessments, etc.). However, in an online setting, the assurance of learning is not as simple. You can proctor an online exam, set up classroom discussions,