Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Remixing Chemistry Class

The article "Remixing Chemistry Class" by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams gives the details of their shift in their chemistry classes from daily lectures to vodcasts viewed by the students before class time. The teachers would record their lectures and post them on various websites and blogs, as well as furnishing DVD copies to students without internet access. The students were responsible for viewing the lecture prior to the class period. The students could pause and review any segment of the lecture that was difficult at their own pace, allowing for greater comprehension. In the classroom, more time could be alloted for questions regarding the vodcast and actual lab experiments. The instructor would move about the classroom prior to and during the experiments making sure the students have reviewed the material. The teachers were able to spend more time with the students doing hands on experiments. This also allowed students to proceed at varied levels in the same classroom. There is also a section in the article which describes the process of recording class lectures and turning them into web based information. There is also a section with comments from students and their parents. Most of the parents were skeptical in the beginning, but saw that for many students this method of lecturing was highly effective.

Q1. Have the grades shown the relative effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this technique?
A1. The standards for admittance to the class were lowered so the students had a weaker math background the year the vodcasts were started, so a direct comparison is not really possible, but test scores have remained relatively steady, considering the lower level of the students.

Q2. What is another benefit of the shift to vodcasts?
A2. There is a greater level of interaction between students and teachers allowing the teachers to better know the students, which in the long run will allow the teachers to better anticipate problems the students may be encountering.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Online Professional

The article, "Online Professional" by Jim Vanides speaks to teachers contemplating "teaching" online courses. He discusses the challenges of translating his lecture material into concise written material to be used online. What is spoken during a classroom session does not necessarily convert to proper reading material. His course/workshop is on the science of sound, which requires the students to "hear" various samples throughout the coursework. To enable students to share in the experience, kits were mailed to each student prior to the beginning of class. The online students were responsible for keeping a science notebook, which was a private discussion board which the teacher also had access to. There were also various discussions and response forums. Testing was done with multiple choice, as well as three other methods of evaluation. The article was very encouraging of taking on this type of classroom, listing several advantages.

Q1. What were some of the disadvantages in putting this course online?
A1. The author listed several issues such as making sure the material is understandable in its written form, loss of inflection and subtle humor, and the lack of impromptu guitar lead singing sessions.

Q2. Were there any areas where the online students were able to reach a greater depth?
A1. Because the sessions take place over several days, the discussions were often longer and more thought provoking, perhaps because of the time involved in forming answers. Additionally, areas which are quickly passed by in the classroom setting, such as after a demonstration, would often lead to greater experimentation by the online students, because the "flow" of the material did not necessarily push them along to a new topic.