Teaching Notes: February 2010 Archives

Wisdom from Our Graduate Students

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One of the more interesting side projects I've been involved with Kim Winck has been interviewing some of the students who have gone through the TWT Certificate program. Of course, they've had some nice things to say about the program, but I've been impressed with some of the comments as well, so I thought I would share them.

Their comments was not always what I expect, but they are thoughtful. And that's just what we hope the portfolio process can do - help instructors really reflect on how and why they should use technology.

Benefits of Technology

Well, I think the benefits are about as limitless as the creativity of the person using the technology. I really see that as you're using it in a pedagogically sound way, that the technology can't hurt in the classroom, especially as people become more and more reliant on technology.

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

I use the Internet and videos to bring authentic materials right into the classroom from Spanish-speaking countries....As far as using a PowerPoint or something to organize d the classroom, that's also a benefit. It's very neat, instead of writing on the board. Everyone can read my writing.

Aroline Seibert, Spanish

The benefits definitely include just the ability to show things in an effective and quick way. A lot of the time in the classroom, you spend writing out ideas that can be displayed in a much quicker way. Certainly in math, three-dimensional graphics are beautiful when done on the computer, but when I get up to the board, they look terrible.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

Perils of Technology

A lot of the classrooms don't have technology enabled. So your hands are kind of tied there. So you have the option of bringing in your own material and projectors but that's also a lot of work.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

If an instructor is just using technology because they're being told by the dean or the department or the students say, "We want want more technology," I think it really quickly becomes a gimmick, and then it just doesn't work.

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

Some the cons may be that people rely on it too much. It can become a crutch. It can definitely fail at times when you're least expecting it.

Aroline Seibert, Spanish

About Learning the Technology

For the most part, I have found it to be a worthwhile experience. I've also wasted plenty of hours chasing down techniques that didn't pan out, but it's so nice to have them in place. And then, the next time you teach the course, it's so much easier.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

The key is just to say OK, how can I make, what I want to communicate...how can I communicate it better? And is there technology that would make that more effective? And then make sure that it actually works before you just decide to start using it. Because I think otherwise students get frustrated. You don't want to be the high-school teacher who can't figure out the VCR. You know what I mean?

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

Benefits of the Portfolio

Yes definitely I would recommend this for other graduate students. First of all, you can put it on your resume. [And] It was kind of neat to see once I completed it to see it up online and I could send the link to my parents, to my friends and they could all check out my Web site.

Aroline Seibert, Spanish

I found it to be really worthwhile writing out a teaching statement of statement of teaching philosophy and just looking at what other people had done helped me to get a few ideas of what I could try to do in the classroom. So, overall it was a great learning experience. A fair amount of work as well, but work that I probably should have been doing anyway. It was just a matter of putting it all together.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

Well I think that it actually was a really valuable thing for me to go through. Um I mean I sort of had all the ideas that I put down inthe portfolio already in my head, but just from the standpoint of organizing those ideas in my brain a little bit into a more cohesive, I think it helped work through some of those things and I think it also made me realize things I was doing well, the things that maybe I should really improve.

Now it's great because I can present this on a job interview. I can say I also have this certificate and if you'd like to see theportfolio, you know here's the Web site. And then it's way to sort of advertise myself that I'm up to date...I think it helps to have sort of some kind of formal recognition the way you do things, and this [certificate] does that. This says alright, this person uses technology in the classroom in a an effective way and Penn State approves.

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature