Technology in Curriculum - Higher Ed

I’m a math teacher at a junior college and am in the early stages of developing some curriculum for a lower level math course (prealgebra). In the “old” days, it would have been a textbook, but I believe that the days of paper texts are numbered. I’m trying to get a feel for what kinds of technology-based curricula people in HS and college have used, how much they’ve liked it, and how successful it’s been. I’m not talking about a course based on a traditional textbook with a few videos or PowerPoints thrown in, but a curriculum where technology is foundational to the course content and is used on a daily or regular basis. It would be great to have students’, teachers’, and developers’ points of view.

  1. Are you a teacher, student, curriculum writer, software developer, or other?
  2. What was the class/course? At what level (HS, undergrad - which year, graduate)?
  3. What was the technology used, and how was it used in the course? For example online course, e-book, paper textbook with online homework and quizzes, video series, etc.
  4. What devices and services did the user need to have access to (e.g., PC, e-reader, online access, software)?
  5. What did you like/dislike about the technology? Did you like it better than using a traditional paper text?
  6. How effective was the technology in your learning of the course content? Was it better/worse, and in what ways?
  7. Do you think the technology will become outdated and need to be replaced more quickly than a traditional text (~5 years)?
  8. Do you have any other comments and/or suggestions?

A supplemental question for teachers/mentors – do you know of any conferences or resources that address this topic?

Lots of questions – I’d be grateful to answers on any of them.

Have you looked at Khan Academy? You could set it up as a “flipped” classroom. Students watch video as homework and come to class to work on problem sets. If you are doing prealgebra in jr. college then chances are it would be good for the students to start at the beginning.

Second Khan academy. It is awesome!

No longer a student but check out Prezi. They have a great educational license. It is a web based presentation editor but is awesome for review types of activities and other non linear applications.

Thanks, all – I’ve been on the road for a while. Yes, I’ve seen the Khan Academy videos and the articles in major magazines (like TIME) that suggest that the classroom components of lecture/question answering be “flipped”. I’ve also looked over prezi – it’s great for a one-time whiz-bang presentation, but I’m not sure if it’s quite what I’m looking for in a “daily diet.”

What I’m running into is the idea that “cutting edge” formats of presentation are being demanded, but not all of them are necessarily beneficial. Many math curricula have an online homework component, but when I’ve actually “spied on” students doing online homework in the lab, I’ve been underimpressed. I see a lot of guessing at the keyboard, but students who are willing to struggle with a pencil and paper are more likely to carry out sequential step-by-step actions that lead to the ability to generate a start-to-finish solution. I know that you’re SUPPOSED to do the problems on paper first, then type in the answers, but the reality is that too many students skip the first part. Then they get to a pencil & paper exam and wonder why they can’t solve the problems. At various times, I’ve run across students in the class before or after mine and asked whether they like online homework, and they generally say “yes”. Then, the following semester, I find many of them in my room taking the same class because they failed the previous semester. That makes me wonder LIKING a method has much correlation to the effectiveness of that method.

The Khan Academy videos are great IF the students pick up a pencil and follow the procedures that they see afterwards as practice. But it’s not enough to sit in the passenger’s seat – there comes a time when you’ve got to sit behind the wheel and do the driving on your own.

I’ve experimented with allowing students to use laptops/tablets with my digital course notes for note-taking, but have withdrawn that privilege. When I “sneak” around, I see them quickly open up a window with my notes, but notice multiple Facebook and Youtube tabs on the task bar. Same deal with using cell phones as clickers – they’re supposed to be responding to my questions, but I see too much texting. So I currently have a “no electronic device” policy in the classroom. I tell students, “You can use your phones any time you want during class – it just has to be out in the hallway. Come back when your phone is out of sight.”

At the moment, I have a very low-tech format – the students buy a skeleton copy of my course notes, and they copy examples from the board into their course pack notes. They do homework on paper, which they hand in daily (and I grade daily). It works pretty well, and the pass rate is high. But at some point, I’m going to have to switch, and I’m only hoping that I can find something better, or at least equally as effective.

Another issue that I’m dealing with is students LOSING certain technologies. We live in an area of high unemployment, and I’ve finding that many students have gotten an iPhone and trashed their outdated family desktop they used in elementary/high school (and not replaced it). So trying to work with technology curriculum in that context is even more of a challenge.