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Teaching Idea In Search of a Solution October 12, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in university.

I had this brain flash (fizzle?) during my bike ride in on Tuesday. When I lecture I use my Tablet PC. I hook the project output up to a huge overhead projector in the room (huge means about 30 feet tall!). I then write my lecture notes on my Tablet and they show up larger than life on the screen. And, and this is important, I don’t get transparency-marker smudges on my hand!

The software I use for this is called OneNote. One of its many features is a collaboration mode. You can tie two different OneNotes together across the network and then two people can work on the same document in real time (actually, it can be more than two).

So, how about this. I could setup my regular PC at the front of the lecture hall and it would work exactly as before. Then I could carry around a really light-weight Tablet PC (like a UMPC or something) and write on it. My writing would still show up on the screen, even though I was no where near the front of the room! How cool would that be?

Exactly. Not so much. The only use I could up for it was class participation. Have a student solve a problem for all to see. I can’t think up anything else other than it would be nice to be unteathered from the lectern at the front of the room.



1. a cornellian - October 12, 2006

Having students solve problems live on the board is a bad idea….(from the point of view of the student)

2. Nate Bottman - October 13, 2006

Wow, I completely disagree. In some classes it might not work (say, a gigantic introductory computer science lecture), but I think that in a relatively small class like this, which is supposed to be honors-level, having students solve problems is a great way to get students more involved and interested. Why would it be a bad idea, from the student’s point of view?

3. Gordon Watts - October 13, 2006

The idea would work better in upper division classes than lower division ones. By that time most students have built up some confidence and also know most others in the class.

Nate — can you imagine some of the folks in our class? And since it is a intro course (even though it is honors) not everyone comes to class prepared.

But — doing something in a group might work — getting a team of 2 or 3 to solve it and then sending them to the blackboard…

But on general benifits, Nate, I agree with you. The problem is the amount of time it can take. When you are packed for material already adding that amount of uncertianty into the lesson plan is a bit “scary”. 🙂

4. a cornellian - October 14, 2006

“Here is a problem, here is a toy that makes your work several feet high, go”
That is how I read the suggestion, in particular the live bit i added, that strikes me as a bad idea. Letting people work on it and then having someone put their work up is a better idea.

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