In a recent blog post my friend Derek Bruff at Vanderbilt wrote that his favorite classroom technology is “wheels on chairs.” That metaphorical comment got me thinking: some people seem to believe only the newest tools can be used creatively or be truly effective. “The old tools have been around so long that we must have come up with all of the good ways to use them ages ago — and those techniques can’t possibly be modern enough to be effective.” Maybe they’re not as sexy, but some tools that are old (like me, I hope) can still be very useful.
Below are several classroom tools don’t require a power cord and yet have very practical value. Some also suggest metaphorical food for thought, along with a few tongue-in-cheek quips.
- Chair with wheels – move it around and match your seat configuration to what students are doing (we’re not supposed to lecture all the time?)
- Fold-away table – set it aside for breathing room or open it up to facilitate student writing or “making” (aren’t they supposed to do that stuff before class?)
- Post-it note – get everyone involved in brainstorming (I’m not supposed to provide all of the original ideas?)
- Window – let in some fresh air
- Shades – pull them up and take a look at what’s happening in RL (academia is not real life?)
- Door – open at the beginning to include all kinds of people and ideas (doesn’t that just make everything messy?)
- Waste basket – failure is okay (aren’t we supposed to get everything right the first time?)
- Crayon – creativity can be wonderful (don’t students want everything to be black and white?)
Does that make any sense? Did I miss anything good?
How about a metaphor for portable white boards, books, chalk, or flip charts?
[Image credits: Crayon Test 1 by Paul Stein, table photo by Chris Clark]
Regular readers may have noticed a new graphic on the right sidebar of this blog. NspireD2 is one of many sources feeding a new aggregator called EdTech Update. An aggregator is a website that collects content from several sources, then organizes and displays it. Readers (like me) who sign up for this particular site can specify areas of interest in the field of educational technology, and then receive a daily or weekly email with a tailor-made list of news items. EdTech Update appears to focus on the K-12 arena, but I’m hoping it will prove useful to folks in higher education. The site is sponsored by SEDTA, a US non-profit association of state education agency leaders in the area of technology.
Pocket Points* is a mobile app that rewards students for NOT using phones. With the app, they can earn a discount, free cookies or a second pita at a local business. Professors have even expressed interest in offering extra credit! Pocket Points is further gamified with a leaderboard and rankings, features that motivate some users more than coupons. The authors claim it is the only app that encourages students to be OFF their phones.
A location-based iOS app, Pocket Points rewards a student based on how long her phone has been locked and how many other users are nearby. It was launched last September at Chico State by a comp sci major and a marketing major. Over the past five months the app has spread across the country to schools like Penn State, Michigan, San Diego State, and Colorado – along with several community colleges and high schools.
There has been some grousing that Pocket Points only rewards basic good behavior, but isn’t that pretty common? Many people use incentives to encourage themselves to things like exercising or eating right. Where’s the harm? If phones are the problem, why not let them provide the solution?
[Tip o’ the hat: App Gives Students an Incentive to Keep Their Phones Locked in Class, Wired Campus]
* no connection to the Android app PocketPoints (no space).
Presentation Makeover Week is a perfect time to discover visual design. Learn the norms that are widely accepted by graphic designers, visual artists, and photographers. After that, if you don’t follow the conventions when developing presentations, it will be a deliberate decision instead of a mistake.
In honor of Presentation Makeover Week, Vanderbilt’s Derek Bruff is seeking nominations for The Agile Learning Educational Prezi Awards 2015. Dr. Bruff saw the results of Prezi’s own competition and was concerned that they seemed to value style over substance.
Through January 31, you can use this Google Form to nominate presentations that do a particularly good job of using Prezi’s tools “to convey meaning and aid understanding.” Any presentation created before January 22, 2015, is eligible. The winner gets bragging rights.
Prezi has announced the winners of The Best Prezis of 2014. Users submitted nominations and six prizes were given. If you are not familiar with Prezi, check out some of our earlier artricles about it.
The image above is from the winning entry in the Education category, “Animas da Amazônia,” about wildlife in the Amazon rainforest. I linked to the English version, but the original is in Portuguese. It’s a colorful, short presentation, with cool 3D effects and a forest soundtrack.