I'm taking part in some faculty development stuff today and tomorrow, and this morning we're meeting in a "smart classroom" that's supposed to promote "active learning." I taught a couple of weeks in this room last spring, filling in for a sick colleague, and it was sort of like theater in the round. Theater in the round is great stuff at times, and challenging in all sorts of cool ways, but it's not the be all and end all of all theater experience or performance. Neither is this classroom.
At any rate, I never felt like I got the hang of teaching in the room, but I'm told that some people love teaching in here when they use specific techniques. I'm ready to see that!
The room is a big rectangle with six seating areas around the edge, each a sort of rectangular table with a rounded side. The unrounded side is against the wall, where there's a big computer screen. And there's a wireless keyboard thingy under each screen that can be moved around so that different people can type.
Each seating area has a small white board. There are two bigger screens, on opposite sides of the room, so that, I think, everyone's supposed to be able to see whatever's put up on the screen.
At each seating area, on the hard drive thingy, there seems to be a single electric outlet (one outlet, not a typical double wall outlet). Other than that, the only outlets I see are under one of the big screens in an otherwise unoccupied area of the room.
20 minutes of traditional lecture sort of presentation. There's a comment about how you could use technology to give students a map of the Canterbury pilgrimage route for Chaucer.
I'm the only person in the room who ever teaches Chaucer, so far as I know, so that's directed at me. (I think I make some people nervous, so they try to reach out.) But the thing is, a little map of the Canterbury pilgrimage is fairly traditional on the syllabus of a CT course, but other than a 10 second comment, it's not really worth much for understanding the tales or their contexts, is it?
We spent 7 minutes on group work, and put up stuff on our little boards, but I can't read all the boards and couldn't hear some people.
And now we're sort of getting talked at about what we put on our boards. It's really hard to hear in here.
We just got the "oooh, here's a cool app thingy." Why would you use it? "Oooo, it's so cool!"
More lecture. Still hard to hear.
One really good question that came up: an instructor talked about trying to get her students to use Diigo collaboratively, but found it difficult. Students don't tend to go log into a special program just to log in, so if you require it, then how? Students are busy in all sorts of ways, and unless they find something really useful, they won't use it because it takes too much time.
But the lectures aren't really addressing that.
Now there's a disagreement about whether an instructor should take time to teach students to export files or should just send a link to a how to video. We've now spent ten minutes on this. All very polite on the surface, but sort of not so much. The discussion is very much happening on/to the other side of the room. Of the four people at my table. I'm typing; someone else is checking a phone, another reading, and one sitting looking at the conversation. Oops. Probably not good.
The instructor seems completely unaware that some of us aren't engaged.
Now we're discussing different High Schools. (The question is how much tech students know or not.)
I had originally turned off my computer after the presentations started. Then I reopened it out of boredom.
My question is: is an audience of teachers easier or harder as an audience than an audience of students?
I'm going to try again to pay attention. Dog help me.