Spring 2011, Spring Break musings

well-deserved. . . .it has been a tough first half of the semester, lots going on. . . I am teaching a full load, in addition to being chair, which is a lot harder than I imagined. . . I am again, behind in my grading, but the second exam for my orgo students went really well, they really did an outstanding job!! Average was 80.0!! and I thought I had written a tough exam, they made me proud!!
This semester we are trying something old. The students do not have tablets. I do. I am trying to see differences and, boy, do I ever see differences. The first is the almost complete lack of willing engagement on the part of the students. If I ask a question I get virtually no responses. With tablets, I could ask a question and I would get 20 responses instantly. Students REALLY want to be anonymous! Classes are much more labored and I doubt is students are having as much fun as they did when they had tablets.

I also am noting that roughly a third of the students are checking out the Posted lectures on my Moodle site. . . most are looking at the PDF files, but not the DyKnow files, which suggests they are MAC users principally. Hmmm. . . .
Anyway, the Spring Break is almost upon us!

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Week 4 Musings

34 students in organic chemistry, 19 are signed up to use tablets many started out using the tablet as their note taking device, not using paper.  There has been a shift in recent weeks.  Not sure why folks are back to using paper and pencil. . . the first exam is friday. . .

The students seem less connected to the technology than in the first year.  we have had “Zero” Crashes, so DyKnow 5.3 is better than 5.2. Students appear reluctant to engage in the technology. . . .Taking longer to get status responses,

I am also having difficulty with Multiboard again. . . trying to find a workaround.. . .

The hardware is beginning to fail. . . we had wrapped out power cords together to reduce clutter in the recharging cabinet. . . . they are failing at an alarming rate. . .  we have unbound the cords, and now the cabinet is a chaos!!  the work around will be to NOT use the recharging cabinet to recharge, but only for storage and have the students use the power cables at their tables. . .  I am looking for small cloth storage bags for the power cords. . . to keep things tidy in the cabinet.

we have also had 3 tablets with serious hardware failures.. . we spent the last of our HP grant on some more tablets, and have upgraded faculty computers as well.  We have purchased Fujitsu’s this time, less pricey and available. . .   We definitely have to find funding for upgrades,  these older tablets are approaching 4 years old. . . .

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Fall 2010; Semester 4 with tablets

Our HP Tablets are entering their third year in rotation!!  We have had 3-4 machines suffer from hardware failures,(out of 31) but they have been readily repaired, and will be back in rotation this fall.   We are purchasing 5 more machines with the balance of our remaining funding, plus some Fujitsu machines for faculty that offer larger screens (13.3 inches).

We are updating to DyKnow 5.3 this fall semester and are havign difficulty with  secondary landscape and multiboard when using Windows 7.0  We have tried a number of fixes, but will be reverting our instructor machines to Vista.  I call upon DyKnow and HP to fix this problem.  it is a real problem that needs to be addressed and quickly!!!

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End of Semester Three with tablets.

Well our second fall semester with tablets has come and gone, our third semester of having half the class use tablets, and evaluating for competence, confidence, and engagement in the course material. Last fall and spring you may recall that we saw, with regard to competence, a narrowing of final exam grade range, though not statistically significant, given our small sample size, among those who were using tablets verses those who were not. We saw significant improvements in engagement among many students, and the channels of interaction between student and faculty were many and diverse. In addition to direct verbal contact, students and myself could communicate via DyKow Chat, through the status bar, through interactive problem solving, through polling questions and panel submissions. All of these were deemed useful to some if not all participants, and many spoke to the anonymity that students had with each of these access points.

With respect to competence, as measured by final exam scores, this year saw some very different outcomes than were seen last fall semester. we are still looking at data, but from first glance, it would appear that we did not see the same sort of narrowing and improvement that we saw in year one.   Range with tablets = 84, range without = 68.  Average of the two was 141 (with tablets), 143(without), so not much difference there.  More later once we get some time to delve deeper.

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