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NERSIG 2006 SSTL: 3, Electronic Constructivism November 22, 2006

Posted by ficial in conference, SSTL2006.
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“Electronic Constructivism: Inspiring and Motivating Students with Thought Provoking Questions and Emerging Technologies” by Maureen Yoder of Lesley

[I wasn’t particularly thrilled with this talk. The general idea, a presentation/discussion about pedagogy using technology rather than about the technology itself, was fine, but I found the implementation lacking. Some issues were technical, e.g. the powerpoint went too fast, the presentation had too many quotes from notable historic educators and not enough actual content, the work was too focused on examples and not enough on general principles, etc. However, I think all that would have been OK if the presenter had actually tied things into to social software, but she didn’t. There were a couple of references like “imagine how you could do this with blogs”, but that’s it.

There were a few good general ideas and points mixed in, but mostly the talk was more appropriate for a group high-school history teachers that weren’t technically savvy than a group of college educators and professionals who all had a pretty good handle on this whole internet thing.]

  • on-line discussion needs to be managed just as much [or more] as face-to-face discussion
  • asking good questions / making good assignments is important; e.g. bad- write a report on the first president of the United States, good- compare the foreign policy of George Bush and George Washington [the presenter actually framed this more as an old-style / new-style point, but it’s valid regardless of whether the student has access to an old set of World Book Encyclopedia or the whole internet and whether the result has to be in a specific format or is open ended. Technology doesn’t magically make bad teaching better.]
  • Having your students do on-line journaling, public or private, can be a good way to debug work groups. However, be careful you don’t get more than you want! A couple of sentences per entry is probably plenty – any more and you’ll have way too much reading to do way too often.

[and I have to admit by about 1/2 way through the talk I lost interest entirely. Luckily I had my laptop out and so was able to get other stuff done. I hope other audience members found it more useful.]

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