A random collection of impressions from week 1

So I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who enters this whole alternate universe unlike anything experienced in her previous reality. As a quick rehash of this week, some things I’ve learned about or been exposed to for the first time: using wikis as an alternate mode for preparing and submitting group lab reports, Screencast-o-matic as a tool for short videos capturing images on your computer screen, and Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs for short).

1) Using wikis for collaborative lab reports. I love this idea! An instructor can provide videos, podcasts, or presentations in the template of the lab report that help the students prepare for or reflect on each section. Students can post data to the wiki during the lab and continue to collaborate on it after the lab without needing to meet in person. They can include screenshots of raw data or computer generated graphs. As an instructor, you have the ability to see which individuals are logging in and making changes to the site. You can also monitor the progress of each group on it’s report and encourage those that are slow to get started. This post by a physics instructor describes in detail how he sets up and manages the wiki for lab reports. Here’s another post by a chemistry instructor of her experience using wikis. This wiki page includes a lesson plan for using the wiki for lab reports. Lastly here’s an article in the Journal of Chemical Education (2010) [you do need access through a personal subscription or educational institution to read it, sadly not an open source journal] about using chem-wikis for online lab reports to boost student collaboration.
Below is a video on getting started with a wiki page:

2) Screencast-o-matic. Another web 2.0 tool that I learned about from my course forums. This is a free tool that lets you record up to 15 minutes in length of screen captures from your computer and accompanying audio. So far I’ve only seen this used in combination with Prezi presentations but in theory you could use it with PowerPoint as well. I downloaded the program and tried it myself as a way to visually explain to a co-website administrator how to add events to our group calendar – complete success! It was incredibly easy and intuitive to use. I can imagine using this as a way to deliver content outside of class or as an engaging strategy for learning. Students could be divided into groups and assigned either chapters or portions of chapters to summarize. They would be responsible for creating a Prezi and using screencast-o-matic to record themselves summarizing the material. These would all be shared on the class website and students would review and comment on what they learned from each presentation and what was still unclear.

Watch a demo here: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/u/h/start-recording
Also, for a basic review of certain web 2.0 tools and demonstration videos of how to use them, check out Grand Canyon’s University Technology Tools page. It was a great starter page for me.

3) MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). If you’re not familiar with what a MOOC is, this video is an easy to follow introduction:

This article from hackeducation was a thorough review of MOOC happenings in 2012, the history of MOOCs, MOOC pedgagogy, and MOOC students. There seems to be lots of current research and debate about the value and place of MOOCs in education. On the pro side is the accessibility (free, assuming you have internet access of decent speed), the self-directed nature of the learning, the quality (some of the top universities such as Yale, Harvard, and MIT, and professors in their fields are participating), the limitless class size, the flexibility (learn when you want), and the efficiency (you can learn exactly what you want to without being forced to take a variety of other classes that will make you “well-rounded”). Further, research supports the fact that no significant difference in learning takes place from face-to-face versus online.

On the con side the key argument seems to be about the need for extremely committed and independent learners to truly thrive in this environment. In fact, “most MOOCs have had dropout rates exceeding 90 percent” according to Tamar Lewin. Another argument is made about the true accessibility of these courses – is it really anyone or still primarily people who could afford to go to college or university? Who can afford high-speed internet access? A third point is made about the lack of a credentialing process: how does an employer (or other educational institution) recognize the value of an online learning experience, particularly when in many of these MOOCs the only assessment is coming from peers?

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One Response to A random collection of impressions from week 1

  1. Pingback: Technology & Chemical Education | ChemTechEd

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