March 23, 2014 by Dr. G
Each year, Penn State University hosts a university-wide conference called the TLT Symposium (that stands for Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium). Faculty from across all university campuses come together to discuss their best practices and pedagogical innovations with the latest and greatest tech tools in the classroom (whether the class be face-to-face, blended, or fully online). I really enjoy this conference and the opportunity to get together with 500 colleagues to hear what faculty are doing across the disciplines. I have presented at this conference several times in the past, most of those times with student co-presenters, but this time I was just an attendee, sitting back and soaking it all in.
Because the symposium has so much worth sharing, I split this one-day conference in to two posts. I was able to use sched.org to create my conference schedule, and each Symposium speaker created an elevator pitch to share a little about their session that each of us could review ahead of time to confirm our session choices. It is still a challenge to fit in all that I learned, but here we go for Saturday AM!
The symposium started off with a morning keynote by Daniel Pink, speaking to us on the topic of motivation (but he joked that with 500 people getting together on a Saturday morning to talk about technology, we really didn’t have any issues with “motivation!”). I typed a full page-and-a-half of single-spaced notes during his keynote, but here are some of my highlights:
- When you reward good behavior, you get more of it (some of the time), and when you punish bad behavior, you get less of it (some of the time). When a task calls for even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward will lead to a poorer performance.
- If-then rewards work great for simple and short-term, not so great for complex and long-term. The problem in education is that we use If-then rewards as motivators in schools, in our classrooms, with our students.
- We need to be expansive with our look/view to address creative problems.
- We need to give people something they did not know they were missing (such as the iPad four years ago, a new dance routine, etc.). What we need is the skill of composition (which is what artists have, a building planner, etc.). And note that commissioned works of art are rated as significantly less creative than the noncommissioned works, yet they were not rated as different in technical quality
And I really appreciated his examples of success of FedEx Days/Ship It Days, Genius Hour, and Friday Evening Experiments – these remind me of the Google 80:20 Project I did with my students in a course a year ago! I think I need to revisit using this approach in class…
Dan Pink’s symposium keynote is posted online, and you can check out Dan Pink’s TED Talk on The Puzzle of Motivation (included below). I had started reading his book Drive on my Kindle – and now, I’m definitely motivated to finish the book!
I then headed to my first session by Stevie Rocco on Copyright and Creative Commons: Finding, Using, and Citing Free Media for the Classroom (see her elevator pitch). I create webpages and websites for my courses, and I also spend time blogging, so I am very aware and very concerned about making sure I am following all the rules when it comes to “fair use” (fair use = when the public can use portions of copyrighted material for commentary, criticism, or parody). I also make it a point to teach my students about fair use, and I make sure all of their multimedia projects for my classes are copyright free – it’s content knowledge all students should know, no matter what major they pursue. All of Stevie’s materials are on her website, a site I know I will be visiting often to find resources and to make sure I am up to speed on changes with Creative Commons (and students should visit the site, too!).
For the final session of the morning, I headed to a session titled The Students Flip the Classroom in First-Semester Biochemistry (see elevator pitch). Everywhere I turn, there is an article or report on “the flipped classroom” – and if students really learn more with this format, if teacher evaluations are hurt when students are required to do so much learning of content outside of class, and even if this is a new pedagogy and not just another “remix” of Just-in-Time Teaching and other approaches. I absolutely appreciate and respect the overarching goal the professor had for the course – create a community of biochemistry majors in the first year, and create excitement for learning science. Personally, I would not have set my entire semester up where the students created the content through videos, especially when this was their first introduction to the discipline. And I might have misunderstood the grading for the course, but the grade seemed to be based on the video creation and participation, with no faculty-generated assessment on the content (except one clicker question per class period). I know that in geoscience, there is an entirely new vocabulary that students must learn, and since most of my students are taking their first (and probably last) geoscience course, I need to do my best to get them excited and to develop their scientific literacy. Although I can see perhaps flipping some of my lectures, I’m not yet at the point where I’m comfortable having students create the lectures and deliver the content (don’t take it personal, students – I just think it is my job to do the teaching, and you job is to focus on the learning). I think I need to hear and learn more to be convinced this is a best teaching practice for my students to learn….
It was back to President’s Hall in The Penn Stater Conference Center for a buffet lunch, and then, off to more sessions!