Last week, the ‘speaker’ manufacturer Sonos announced that it would be ending support for its legacy products. But, what does this mean for the other IoT devices in our homes, and how can we rethink ‘smart tech’?
Creating class objectives is arguably the most important part of my teaching process. If done correctly, I don’t really need to develop long, in-depth lesson plans (though I often do that anyways). Concrete class objectives allow for structure while also allowing for flexibility and the ability to respond to students on the fly. It really informs everything. I’ve typically stuck to a few ‘rules’ when creating class objectives. These include, having one action per objective, writing measurable (or observable) objectives, not having a laundry list of objectives (5 max), and using jargon-free language.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with a new approach. Instead of the typical bulleted list, I’ve given students one overarching objective for my class and underneath I have broken down that objective into potential tasks students can undertake to achieve the overarching objective. Why make a big deal about such a subtle difference? Because a regular piece of feedback I’ve received from students is their lack of understanding of how my list of ‘measurable’ objectives fit together. How do they related to each other? And, it’s hard to argue with them.
Traditionally I’d have broken out class objectives into smaller, more manageable, bullet points. Let’s take the following as a hypothetical example.
“By the end of this class you will have
Located the class research guide
Searched two of the recommended databases
Found one peer-reviewed academic source
Cited one academic source using APA 7th edition”
Well, I can see how these objectives all lend themselves to conducting academic research and being successful in a research paper, but students might not. If I were to take my new approach, I might right something like the following
“By the end of this class, you will have made meaningful progress on your literature review assignment. This includes
Locating the class research guide
Searching two of the recommended academic databases
Finding at least one peer-reviewed academic article
Citing an academic article using APA 7th edition”
This isn’t a perfect example, since this is hypothetical. That being said, you can see the the bulleted list of objectives hasn’t changed much – except for the tense. The bullets are still measurable/observable from my perspective, but now they’re put in context by being placed under a larger goal or ‘theme.’ At this point you might be thinking “how much of a different could this possibly make in the classroom.” Well, originally I had a similar question for myself. Surprisingly, the difference in classroom engagement is quiet significant. Below I’ve provided a real world example from a recent class.
In this class, students did something different. I didn’t get one question like “what is the assignment again?” or “how do these help me with the assignment?” It was clear why they were in the library session, to get a start on their original research project. Framing the objectives this way also takes some of the pressure off students. Not everyone is at the same experience level, which is why checklist type class objectives are somewhat flawed in my opinion. The goal is to get a start on your research, and that ‘start’ may depend on how much experience one has with an academic database. One could do everything in the bulleted list, but not doing so doesn’t mean the overarching objective wasn’t achieved.
I’m certain others instructors have experimented with objectives or framed them in a similar fashion. There are several good texts on promoting class discussion and aligning what’s done in class with clear objectives. However, this approach to objectives is one piece of a larger teaching strategy. Ultimately, I want to be more explicit in my teaching and be more clear about why I’m asking students to do the tasks I’ve assignment to them. If teaching them strategies for completing an annotated bibliography is my task, then I will preface the lesson with a discussion about how annotated bibliographies are useful tools and how they can serve as a stepping stone to conducting literature reviews. If I can place the assignment in the context of a marketable skill (this is great for students going on practicum) then all the better.
I remember not ‘getting it’ as a student. I remember not understanding the value of some of my assignments. So, from now on I’m going to tell them the value and the application. So far, I see better engagement, more time spent on task, and good questions.
Some useful resources
Barkley, E., & Major, C. (2016). Learning assessment techniques : a handbook for college faculty . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Howard, J. (2015). Discussion in the college classroom : getting your students engaged and participating in person and online . San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
Roberts, K. (2002). Ironies of effective teaching: Deep structure learning and lonstructions of the classroom. Teaching Sociology,30(1), 1-25. Retrieved January 22, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3211517
Every time I visit my parents, I play a little bit of Knights of the Old Republic II on my original Xbox console. I picked up the game used many years ago and it sat idle after I went to university.
After 53 hours and 23 minutes of gameplay I finally beat it this Christmas holiday.
A few thoughts. While it’s very much like the first game, the level design isn’t as good. This could have been called Star Wars Backtrack. Lots of dead ends and empty rooms. The end of the game is also very tedious as it forces you to save every two minutes. I wouldn’t want to do it twice. Also the game just… ends. After defeating the final enemy (a Dark/Fallen Jedi) you take off in your ship – which got miraculously fixed after a devastating crash landing – just as the planet you were on explodes in the background. Overall the story was well done, if not piggybacking off the original.
No major revelations here. Just excited to have beaten it after all these years. In the game archive it goes…
With the introduction of iPadOS, the iPad is now a viable productivity machine. But, its approach to multitasking and gesture controls are starkly different from the Mac. In this article I examine two things. iPadOS has been characterized as considerably more complicated than previous iPad versions of iOS. I compared iOS 12 and iPadOS to see how much gesture complexity has been added to the iPad platform. I also broadly compare the iPad and Mac’s multitasking gestures, number of keyboard shortcuts, and overall approach to app windowing to answer the following question. Is the iPad (and iPadOS) a capable productivity platform when compared to traditional desktop operating systems (OS), or is it simply a different take on how work should be done?
The Alberta OER Summit took place on June 21st, 2019 at NorQuest College, Edmonton, AB. It was a wonderful meeting, and I’d like to thank Robert Lawson at NorQuest for organizing the event and for inviting me to speak about our provincial journal club project. We have a great OER community in Alberta and it’s events like this that keep the momentum going.
Below is a link to the presentation slides from Mount Royal University’s Institutional Repository.
Abstract: Transitioning from closed courses and educational resources to open educational resources (OER) and open courseware (OCW) requires considerations of many factors beyond simply the use of an open licence. This paper examines the pedagogical choices and trade-offs involved in creating OER and OCW. Eight factors are identified that influence openness (open licensing, accessibility and usability standards, language, cultural considerations, support costs, digital distribution, and file formats). These factors are examined under closed, mixed and most open scenarios to relatively compare the amount of effort, willingness, skill and knowledge required. The paper concludes by suggesting that maximizing openness is not practical and argues that open educators should strive for ‘open enough’ rather than maximal openness.
Excerpt: “Devices labeled with the term “pro” come with a lot of expectations. The idea of a pro user is well defined in the desktop and laptop computing space. But, pro mobile devices (such as phones and tablets) are less well defined. This is problematic because devices that support the pro moniker cannot separate themselves from consumer grade options except in price – making the term a meaningless standard. Unlike their PC counterparts, they mobile devices are held back by the limitations of their respective app software and operating systems.”