Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Technology.......not always the best option

Note taking in my class is more of an experience than a lecture. I do a lot of sprinting around the classroom, a lot of "So Rachel owns a company that makes automatic cow milkers.....", and a lot of discussion that has to do with the lecture notes. I used to present the notes on an overhead projector with typed transparencies. The format was very basic:
I.
A.
1.
a.
-

What was the reaction? Well, reaction to most notes is not real good because most students do well by actually practicing the theory. The nice thing was that the test came from the notes (duh. I don't know why teachers get tricky with notes), and the ideas were placed in a logical formation.
At the end of last year, I found out that I was receiving an LCD projector in my classroom. For those that don't know, these projectors plug into the computer and allow the screen to show clearly on a screen at the front of the classroom. I was starting to consider changing all my notes into Power Point presentations. Why? More diversification (graphics, effects) can usually draw more attention to the notes, and also draw in those "lower than par" students that don't do well with simple written notes. After the Economics Conference in San Francisco, I decided that I would adjust a quarters worth of Economics notes into Power Points (with some help of the California Council of Economic Education)to see if the technology would give me a hand.
Did it work?
Not really. Simply put, the structure of the notes was not nearly as effective as simply creating a numbered system on the overhead. Students had a tougher time being able to decipher the necessary information form the flash and imagery. The effects also made the presentation go faster, and not allow some of the slower note takers catch up, or ask necessary questions. This left the slower students frustrated, the upper end students irritated that the information wasn't clear, and many of the middle-of-the-road students not really caring about the presentation at all.
Well, starting next week I go back to the overheads to finish the semester. I think I'm going to trim down the Power Points and try to take the note taking portion of the presentations away, leaving an entity that will try and reinforce the notes, not replace them.
If you have good Power Point ideas, or good "note giving" ideas, let me know.
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