Guest blog post written by Siobhan Stynes
Siobhan Stynes is a professor of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Integrated Science at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada. Spending time in the hands-on laboratory as well as in an interactive classroom has enabled Siobhan to re-evaluate the focus and methodology of her teaching, bridging the two learning environments. Her goal is to provide interactive learning experiences for her students so they can work together and develop a deeper foundation in science. Siobhan is on facebook and twitter @siobhanstynes.
Since I started teaching at Seneca College of Applied Arts of Technology in Toronto, Canada back in 2008, I have always struggled in engaging students with their work outside of the classroom. In my integrated science classroom, they were great! They would pay attention, do theoretical problems & calculations and get in to it. But, once the end of class came, the books & laptops were packed up, not to be opened for the purposes of studying science until our next class. When our institution adopted a Wiley textbook with digital content, called WileyPLUS with online homework, assignments, quizzes, tutorials, animations, audio files, students became more engaged outside of the classroom. They were eager for more assignments and more practice on their laptops and iPads (any excuse to use those cool devices, right?).
Earlier this year I bought a Groupon deal for an indoor skydiving session. I’m not sure why I bought this particular deal, especially since I’m deathly afraid of heights and this just didn’t seem like something I would willingly do. Nevertheless, I suited up this weekend and took on the challenge! Even though it was not real skydiving, it was just as frightening as I would imagine it to be, it felt so real and with the video and fan blowing, the instructors had very seamlessly simulated reality. I even had that crazy sinking feeling in my stomach the whole time!
This got me thinking about Jacksonville State University‘s ability to simulate the experience of actually being in class…when in fact one third of their student body is taking their classes online. JSU is successfully creating an online version of the traditional classroom because they understand that to really connect and communicate with their students, they need to “reach the students where they are,” and incorporate a synchronous component to their online classes. Not only are the students able to attend the class lectures online, but they are able to connect with faculty using education technology for office hours, questions on assignments – all in real-time, all online. So that scary sinking feeling that you’ll be called on when you haven’t completed your assignments/reading for the week? Yup, it is just the same. Just as real – only your peers might not be able to see you actually turn red.
In today’s fragile job market and tumultuous economy it’s important for educators to do whatever we can to make sure we are equipping our students with the tools to set them up for success. More and more we’re seeing that employers are looking to social media to identify potential hires – which means that it’s our responsibility to lay the groundwork for a positive professional online presence for our students.
So how do we go about preparing our students to achieve success today?
Mark Edmundson, a professor of English at University of Virginia, wrote an Op-Ed called, “The Trouble with Online Education,” which appeared in last week’s New York Times. Timing of the op-ed coincides with UVA’s recent announcement that they would be developing and offering online courses with Coursera. To boil down the article, Edmundson says he thinks of online education as a one size fits all experience, yet thinks of traditional learning experiences as that of a jazz composition. In response, Josh Kim published an open letter to Professor Edmundson exposing some of Professor Edmundson’s incorrect assumptions and confusion, which you can read here: An Open Letter to Professor Edmundson.
Not only was this year the BIGGEST BbWorld to-date, but it was the best (or at least that’s what we heard from Fernando Valenzuela, President Cengage Learning / National Geographic Learning Latin America).
@FerVal100 Want to see how the World has changed? Just compare the tweet activity from #BbW12 to #BbW11 you will be amazed @Blackboard @michaelchasen
Last week was a whirlwind of fun activities, engaging sessions, and keynotes full of big announcements. So, we thought we’d refresh your memory with highlights – and if you weren’t there, hopefully this will make you feel like you were a part of BbWorld 2012!