Recent news, research, trends and thoughts about education. Compiled by Doug Ward.
Notes by hand or with laptops? Sorry, wrong question.
Cathy Davidson raises exactly the right question in the debate about whether students should take notes by hand or with laptops in class. The real issue, Davidson writes, is that instructors should be working to avoid lecture and instead engage students in active learning. Even in a large lecture hall, instructors can use active-learning activities that help students learn far more than they would with lecture. Davidson’s suggestion doesn’t involve digital technology. Rather, she says, a simple notecard will do.
Tom Whitby, in Edutopia, reinforces Davidson’s argument by explaining the importance of collaboration in modern pedagogy.
If textbooks are dead, are universities next?
Educause, an orgranization that focuses on information technology in higher education, held its annual conference this week in Orlando, Fla. Most of the discussions were geared more toward IT than educators, but a few interesting nuggets caught my attention:
- The president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education declared that textbooks were dead and that adaptive learning was the future, EdTech magazine reported, and the Harvard professor Clay Christensen said that online learning was diminishing the importance of traditional universities.
- Blackboard announced a new cloud version of its learning management system and said that it had struck a deal with Lynda.com to provide easy access to Lynda’s online courses in Blackboard Learn, EducationDive reported.
- Reporting on their use of predictive modeling, representatives of Sacramento State University said that students who enrolled in summer classes after the freshman year of college, took freshman seminars, and took a full load of classes during their freshman year were more likely to graduate than those who didn’t.
Helping students take control of class discussions
In an article in Hybrid Pedagogy, Chris Friend shares some techniques for letting class conversations evolve organically. He writes, “A class discussion where the teacher pre-determines the outcome is just a lecture in disguise, dressed up to feel student-centered while still being instructor-directed.”
Making sure all group members pull their weight
Li-Shih Huang offers tips on making sure all members of a project group share in the workload. Those tips include designing projects so that students complete them in phases, allowing students to choose project topics that match their own interests, and helping students become better problem-solvers. You’ll find the full post at Faculty Focus.
Number of stay-at-home college students hits 20-year high
National Journal reports that the number of college students living at home has reached a 20-year high. Tuition increases and “an economy that still feels like a recession to many families” have played a role, National Journal writes, saying that the combination “may be turning more students into pragmatists.” That shift can make diversifying the student body more challenging.
What to do when a class has a wide range of skills
In an article on differentiated learning, Christina Yu offers suggestions on helping students with wide ranges of skills in the same class. She suggests avoiding a technique that is often recommended: having students who understand course material help those who don’t. I wish she had explored that area more. That approach can certainly help in some scenarios. Yu doesn’t dismiss it outright; rather, she includes it in a list of “what differentiated instruction is not.”
A trend worth watching
eSchool News reports that tablet use is growing increasingly common in grades 4 through 12. School tablet use has reached 66 percent in grades 4-5, 58 percent in grades 6-8, and 42 percent in grades 9-12, the publication reports. Moreover, 81 percent of students say that tablets help personalize learning. These are students who will be in college in the coming years.