I remember waiting for my advanced accounting class to start when the professor (probably my favourite accounting prof as far as favourite accounting profs go) decided it would be entertaining to begin the lecture with the following video:
Either he was oblivious to the hypocrisy of the situation or he had a dark twisted humour, but something tells me he was the latter. 

Although the comparison between education institutions and large manufacturing facilities has been exhausted far and wide, there still hasn't been much change to the system. If anything it's getting worse. Watch this video by Sir Ken Robinson, PHD and author on the subject of education, where he breaks down the problems of our current education system.
As cliches as it sounds, everyone is unique and different. Different people learn at different paces, in different styles. With the available technology of the past, it was indeed very costly to personalize education. Access to knowledge and information was limited. There was no way of recording lectures. No smart phones. No emails. 

However, not only do we have access to an incredible selection of technology, the possibility of having a more personalized education process for students is no longer a pipe dream. It is already happening. Before students had no other ways of getting knowledge except from school, now just about every piece of knowledge out there is accessible with a few swipes on their phones. 

So how do you, as a professor or a teacher, take advantage of the newly available technology to make classroom learning more relevant and personal? 

Here are some tip:

1) Foster an Online Community
Most students spend a large portion of their time on social media sites like Facebook, why not bring the classroom discussion there too? As a teacher, you can post reminders of homework due dates, organize homework discussions, and even post class notes in a Facebook group. Get over the stigma attached to using Facebook and use it to your advantage. I bet class engagement will increase drastically.

Personal story: Back in the old MSN days, I remember our grade 6 teacher had everyone on his list and we were allowed to ask questions anytime he was online. He is still probably my favourite teacher.

2) Track Personal Progress
The best way to motivate students is to show them a visualization of their class progress. Whether it is measured in brownie points or test results, having a real-time tracker online will be a huge motivator for students. People crave instant feedback and visualization so create an online display board for students to view.

3) Receive Instant Feedback
I think it's funny that my university (I won't name any names) require the students to fill out a course evaluation form near the end of the course, where the professors only receive the feedbacks about several months later. I'm sure they have their reasons, but why not use online survey software so that professors can receive instant feedback and students can voice their suggestions as the semester progresses? Use tools like this to deploy feedback forms throughout the semester.

4) Make Projects Fun
I don't know about you, but group projects often end in disputes on who did or didn't do what. With so many free project management tools out there, why not have them track responsibilities online using Trello? As a bonus, these students will gain professional project management skills.

None of the above suggestions take longer than a few hours to setup, but the benefits and the results can be huge. I can almost guarantee your students will appreciate it and maybe even be inspired by the creative ways you are using technology for good!


08/08/2012 2:48pm

I love Pink Floyd, too! I think it's funny how you mixed that video in with your blog :) nice work.


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    Part-time professor, full-time disruptioner of the current education system.


    July 2012