Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Some feedback

Today our discussion in Catholic Theology got a little off track, but I thought it to be important stuff. Since I have not delved into DyKnow much, I got some of their impressions of its use, and the discussion turned to the area of privacy. The fact that with the software teachers could be viewing students screens even when they are at home is bothersome to some students. But even in the classroom, some students feel that it is their business what they are doing during the class. "It's our grade" is what they had to say.

There were complaints about not being able to use OneNote, where they would prefer to take their notes, when a teacher blocks everything but DyKnow, and about how each day's work is a separate file when they would like to organize their notes differently. Another problem is when a teacher forgets to "release" students from their class, and applications they need for homework are blocked well beyond the school day.

A complaint that I heard before was that the method of presenting, at least as used by some teachers, allows for too much passivity on the part of students. If the notes are there and they don't have to write them, they are not as engaged with the material. I do know that some teachers don't put all the material on the slides, which encourages students to add their own notes.

It was a natural jump from there to the tools we have actually used in the classroom. There was Diigo, and some students had major problems with it. The main problem seemed to have to do with the way it interacted with the databases we have access to at school. I solved that problem (I think), but too late for these students, who could not get back to articles they had marked. And I think that next semester I just have to take more time to familiarize students with the tool, as some this semester just found it confusing.

I need to do the same with Google Docs. Some pairs did not really take advantage of the collaborative aspects, but put their paper together and then pasted to Docs. In some cases they just found it confusing. One girl said that those who had used it for another teacher previously found it easy.

Some students just wished they could have done stuff on paper. They don't like reading on screens; they like to flip through the assignments they get back to read comments, not scroll. So much for the idea that all young people are digital natives who take to computer applications like a duck to water.

Even with so many complaints, I wasn't totally discouraged. One girl actually said that she liked Diigo. My basic conclusion for improving next semester: teach more of the tech.

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