My Blogging Experience

January 24, 2010

Old and New ways of teaching

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , , , — debyj @ 2:29 pm

Reflecting on University classes….

Bad Learning Experiences:

– 3 hour lectures

Unfortunately, most professors choose to give students a 3 hour lecture each week in which they participate only by frantically writing notes. Some professors thankfully choose to give students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways such as group activities and discussions. This student – centered classroom is more realistic because it is very difficult for us to focus our brains on one particular event for three hours. I came across an article called quick brains that discusses how the brain has changed along with technology. We process information much more quickly then we used to and we have a very short attention span as a result. Teachers (including professors!) must realize this and change or alter their teaching styles if they want their students to succeed.

– motivation

Sometimes it is very difficult to be motivated in University classes. There are many many times when I have wondered what exactly I was learning in class that would be relevant to my career after I complete my degree. Sometimes professors forget to learn about their students. They should be teaching to educate the students in a way that best prepares them for their career! Unfortunately, many professors are teaching because they have to, not because they love to.

Good Learning Experiences:

– Elluminate

I participated in an online class presentation last week featuring Karl Fisch. It was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. It is amazing how technology has advanced in a way that allows a number of people from all over the world to meet together and discuss education without leaving their homes.

– Wolfram Alpha

Karl Fisch talked about a relatively new (May 2009) search engine called Wolfram Alpha. It is very neat and definitely worth trying out. For educators, especially in the Math and Science area, this new tool may pose some problems. Wolfram Alpha can calculate easy to advanced equations for you. Will it be allowed in schools or will it be a blocked website?

If you want to find out more about it, here is a short video tutorial:

Wolfram Alpha introductory movie

– You Tube

In his presentation, Karl Fisch stated that he disagreed with schools for prohibiting the use of You Tube in classrooms. Why not? He argued that we trust our teenagers to drive vehicles yet we do not trust them to use a video website. You Tube has some very valuable resources that are excellent learning opportunities. Not only that, but imagine if we could have the opportunity to teach our students how to use You Tube effectively. We can teach them how to understand the difference between a good and bad video. We can also help them understand the risks involved in posting their own videos; what they should or should not post. I agree with Karl. Lets stop banning websites and start helping our students make effective use of the internet! You Tube is not something to be ashamed of!

I never realized it until now, but my best experiences in University have been those when my teachers have used as many resources as possible (including technology) to best educate me. Technology is becoming such a great tool for teaching (as long as we know how to use it properly). If you are teaching and you are not using it, I think you are making a big mistake.

Another neat video I just found that I think is very relevant to this topic:

digital students @ analog schools



  1. I also find the Wolfram Alpha an interesting site. And your question will it be blocked in schools? Thats a very good question, I personally can see them blocking it because of the problems and serches it can perform. What are your thoughts?
    I agree with your comment about we should teach students how to use YouTube. Like he said “we trust teenagers to drive cars but don’t trust them on YouTube” I find that point very interesting.

    Comment by chelseah25 — January 24, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    • I think if things stay the way they are with the banning of sites like YouTube and facebook, Wolfram Alpha may not be allowed either. We may see our authorities change their minds though. If suddenly YouTube becomes acceptable in classrooms maybe Wolfram Alpha might be considered okay. When the students are being tested, Wolfram Alpha is not sitting next to them so they cannot entirely depend on it. BUT in “real life” it is easily accessible….so many students might wonder why they should be learning the equations when a computer can do it for them. Its definitely something to think about!

      Comment by debyj — January 24, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

  2. So what’s really puzzling to me is that you’re all in education, trying to learn how to teach and you’re being exposed to things that we know aren’t the best for kids. That seems odd.

    What about your other classes. Any good practices or strategies you’ve experienced? What were your best learning experiences?

    Comment by Dean Shareski — January 24, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

    • It is very ironic and quite frustrating most of the time. I think it is especially frustrating for education students too because we are more conscious of teaching styles. I am not saying that all classes are like that though. I find that most of the “lecture only” classes are non-education classes. Almost all of the education classes are taught by current or previous teachers so they are experts on learning where as most professors in other departments have little to no educational background.

      As I said, my best experiences have been in the classes where we get to do more than just listen and take notes. Specifically, I would say I have really enjoyed discussions in my education classes where we get an opportunity to talk about teaching experiences, potential problems we may encounter, questions we have about the profession, and different methods and ways to go about teaching. My favorite classes were taught by current teachers who would come share their teaching experiences with us from that very day. I found it rewarding to be able to learn from these teachers as they would demonstrate how they handled various problems. One time one of my professors actually brought some of her students to our class and let us teach the students lessons that we had created for an assignment. It was a fantastic experience and I am very grateful that she put that extra effort in for us.

      Comment by debyj — January 24, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  3. Who cares if it’s blocked or not? Students do their homework at their homes, generally. We have no control over their home internet usage. Obviously students will not be allowed computer access during exams or while they’re working on assignments in class. Whether they use Wolfram to check their work or to actually do their work for them doesn’t really matter to me. If they can’t produce during class during quizzes, exams, and in-class examples, obviously some flags are going to be raised when they get 100% on all of their homework.

    I don’t like how people always rush to the “should we block this?!!” — I think we should be focusing more on “could this be useful?”

    Comment by Mike Wolf — January 24, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

    • Thanks for the comment Mike! “could this be useful?” what a great way of looking at it! I am going to keep that in mind. That is a great question we can ask our students in terms of technology and a lot of other things as well and you are right…teachers need to ask themselves that question more often too.

      Comment by debyj — January 24, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

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