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Topic: Jeff's Tuesday ToolFest Question


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Subject:   RE: Jeff's Tuesday ToolFest Question
Author: Alan Cooper
Date: Jun 15 2005
On Jun 14 2005, Jeff L wrote:
> For me, the largest single
> drawback to using tools in the classroom is having a medium to
> present the tool.

This is true for me too. Although I build tools myself, and the web-pages to
hold and refer to them, I end up only rarely using them in class.

The bother (and inevitable screw-ups) associated with bringing equipment into
a classroom and connecting to a network (which as some respondents have noted is
often blocked from some crucial way for 'security') frequently outweighs any
advantages that might be obtained.

Lab settings can and do work well for some kinds of activity, but require a
different mode of instruction with more detailed preparation, and it is hard to
avoid various kinds of distraction that they introduce which interfere with the
learning process. Also they are often in short supply and the tight scheduling
limits spontaneity and adds another unwelcome administrative task to my day.

Material recommended for unsupervised home access via internet has in the past
only been available to a small (but increasing) segment of the community and
also requires much more bullet-proof instructions than a supervised lab
activity. And even students who register for a web-based course may have
out-of-date browsers and/or inadequate network connections despite what is
advertised as the minimum requirement.

In a way I am not disappointed as I only expected my tools to be learning
exercises for myself with more general utility only coming with the next
generation of infrasructure. Fortunately, that does appear to be coming. This
fall I will have the benefit of one of our new "smart classrooms" with a fixed
networked computer and projector and it seems that the situation in schools is
also improving - maybe more dramatically considering the number of people who
have reported acccess to interactive whiteboards - something I can still only
dream of.

The model I am going to try out in the fall is to use the classroom setup as
needed for presentation purposes and demonstration of tools, with students being
referred to either their own home pc's and/or drop-in computer labs for
further exploration:-

including both 'one-shot' interactive gizmos or games
     (like these http://www.langara.bc.ca/~acooper/mathlets/ ),
and extended labs with instructions and reporting
     (like these http://www.langara.bc.ca/~acooper/mathlabs/ ).


> Having a web page with the sites listed is another option.
Another type of tool that looks promising is the weblog.
Has anyone tried blogs as a way of organizing their daily links and
discussion?

cheers,
    Alan

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