Four Common Classroom Issues, Erased by a Smartpen07/13/12
by kylieblack poisted in Resources › Education Setting › Classroom , and Resources › Grade Level › College , and Resources , and Resources › Audience › Student , and Resources › Audience › Teacher , United States | Comments (0)
Today’s guest post is by former college instructor Maria Ranier. Maria Rainier is a hardworking freelance blogger who dispenses online education advice and useful data for students, instructors, and parents interested in the online education industry. Please share your comments with her below!
As a college instructor until very recently, I became all too familiar with the number of things that can go awry during the journey of words and concepts from the teacher’s lips (or whiteboard) to the student’s mind.
Pedagogy is in large part about that journey. Its final step – the firings of synapses taking place within that student’s skull – is ultimately unique to the student and impenetrable. But along the way, there are several steps where real, practical intervention can take place.
In the past, tools were basic: ear, eye, pen, pad. Good habit formation was everything. Note-taking, specifically, was the secret weapon that separated achievers from less successful students (unless you were an auditory learner with a borderline photographic memory).
Now, technology is extending students’ capabilities in remarkable directions. In particular, the Livescribe smartpen represents a total overhaul of the note-taking paradigm, and thus of the lecture process. The effect on the study process will be revolutionary.
Here are a handful of recurring problems I’ve noticed as a teacher that I believe Livescribe has the potential to do away with:
1. The Chicken-Scratch Cipher: This was the one I struggled with most as a student. A childhood injury to my dominant left wrist made my already-bad penmanship practically illegible. Oftentimes this would slow me down when reading my own notes – let alone if anyone else wanted to look over them! With a smartpen, though, any confusion can be cleared up by consulting the lecture audio.
2. The Verbatim Trap: All too often, note-taking takes the form of frantically scribbling down every word the teacher says, like a court reporter. While this can be helpful at times, aiding memory retention through repetition, rephrasing concepts in their own words can be an equally valuable process for students. It’s important that the student’s mind be allowed to go on tangents and make unexpected connections (which should not necessarily be vocalized during classroom discussion). Having the confidence that a “back-up” copy of what was said exists, the student can feel freer to take more interpretive and personal notes, creating two independent “tracks” for the lesson like the audio commentary on a DVD.
3. Context Cluelessness: So if you don’t do the verbatim transcription and instead take a more right-brained approach to your notes, you may look back over them and think, “What the heck was he/she/I talking about here?” This can even happen with very literal note-taking, if the shorthand you use is so abbreviated that it loses meaning after the class. A smartpen can bridge that gap between what was said and how it struck you.
4. Repetition Disruption: Lectures can move very fast. Some professors are harder to keep up with than others, even if, in true court-reporter style as mentioned above, you have a pretty good grasp of shorthand. Conversely, if too much clarification is needed, the pace can slow down to a crawl. Requests for elaboration are one thing, and should always be humored, but often it’s simply that a student does not catch what a professor says. So they either stall the lesson, or more often suffer in silence, which is worse. The smartpen enables even shy students to get the replay they need.
Obviously, the smartpen is a tremendously flexible tool. These are just a few of its virtues that happened to strike me from my own teaching experience. Ultimately, its capacities are limited only by our imaginations as teachers and learners.