Per usual, as a school year winds down, I find myself thinking way too much about what changes I want to make to my classes, my classroom pedagogy, or whatever for next year. This is a problem because I should really take some time to decompress and ignore school for a little while (this particular school year has been trying on a number of levels, but I’m teaching summer courses, so I’m largely fucked when it comes to vacation).
So below are a number of changes I’m thinking of making for the next school year, some of which will debut in my summer course. I’m putting this here in the hopes that disgorging it from my head will allow me to focus on other shizz…we shall see, I guess.
First Day of Class in a Computer Lab: The next time someone comes up to me and says that Millennial students are digital natives I’m going to punch them in the fucking face. It’s not true in the slightest. Messing around on iPods or smartphones to play games and inject social media ooze into their brains does not mean these students have any idea how to navigate the web or use digital tools and resources to work effectively. This became glaringly obvious to me as I have evaluated the student response to my Devenney Teaching Hub website. I am most assuredly biased in this, but the site architecture for the Teaching Hub is so simple and straightforward as to be utterly boring, and yet some students were still unable to navigate it effectively. Part of my solution to this (aside from some design tweaks I am also doing) is to start the first day of all my classes in a computer lab in order to introduce the digital components in a more structured manner while walking them through the particulars of registering for the course website, signing up for Twitter, or whatever.
Ironically enough, we move from that digital humanities-esque enlightened perspective to…
Banning all Electronic Devices in Classroom: In the past, I have never cared much either way whether students texted in class or played on laptops or whatnot, provided they were not disturbing their classmates who did give a shit about their learning. I always viewed this as the electronic equivalent of doodling on your paper and moved on. However, this relaxed attitude on my part has become more and more abused in my classes lately. The final straw I think was seeing students in my upper level course this last semester plugging away at laptops while the class was working through group discussion activities. The typical student answer to this is to claim they can multitask just fine, but more and more research continues to appear demonstrating that this is not true and that student multitaskers actually decrease their cognitive and scholarly aptitude (i.e. they learn less and not as well). As such, let the banning began! That said, I think I will be somewhat flexible about this as I am not particularly keen on punishing those students who do use their tech resources responsibly during class. I am going to ban phones/smartphones, but allow laptops and e-book readers. However, during class group activities and discussion, laptops must be closed. And this will all be enforced with a progressive punishment system of some sort. Whether this will work or merely be a finger in a collapsing dike is another question.
I have a few other ideas mulling about in my head, mostly to do with changing the topic structure of some of my courses for next year, but I’ll save that for another post. I’ll simply finish by noting that in some way, shape, or form, I will work this video clip into the first day of my classes as well. Enjoy: