Tuesday, April 03, 2007

1:1 Computing and Econometrics -- day three

Three classes using Tablet PCs in a 1:1 computing environment with DyKnow Vision and there is some transformation in and active engagement with the curriculum.

On Monday in class I used a mostly blank DyKnow notebook and an open Adobe pdf file of my lecture notes. Using the screen grab of Adobe Professional 8 I copied as image page after page of equations as I displayed them in DyKnow Vision to all the students. I then talked about them and expanded on the notes with the pen. Students seemed to follow the presentation and for the first day I think the technology was pressed a bit into the background. Still one student kept losing connection (a wireless issue?) and I did not notice many students taking many digital notes on the screen. I will have to follow up and make sure that they are not only taking notes, but saving the notebooks and going back and referring to them as needed.

I was able to use the minute paper (inside DyKnow) at the end to check whether they felt like they were on track and after reading and commenting I returned all the student submitted panels. I think they truly followed the presentation based on their comments. What was remarkable is all 8 students wrote about only the econometrics and not a word about the technology. Have they assimilated DyKnow this fast? Or at least until the next issue. They seemed to remain engaged, following the presentation on the screen and asking plenty of questions about the econometrics.

We also spent time on their PBL projects. There are two teams of 4 who are challenged to analyze the student labor market using the 1997 wave of the NLSY. I remarked that I read and returned proposals and wanted the proposals redone by Wednesday. More on this later.

The major problem identified in their proposals was not articulating the problem well. Peter Kennedy is right, "problem articulation" is the first step, get that wrong and everything that follows is invalid (my word not his). This entire semester I have been trying to teach Graduate Econometrics contrasting the classical estimation and inference with Kennedy's three main principles for Applied Econometrics: (1) problem articulation, (2) data cleaning and (3) model specification. It is the 11th week and they still do not have a better handle on articulation, however I know this is working in part because of a single student comment on a minute paper: "I want to know more pitfalls of analysis because we can learn methods of estimation on our own." This student feels confident they can learn the methods by reading the books and computer manuals, but analysis (in particular) Kennedy's three methods, that is another story.

If you have an interest in Applied Econometrics and haven't read Peter Kennedy's 21st fifth chapter of his Guide to Econometrics, then you are in for a treat. Peter, in that chapter has changed the way I teach graduates econometrics. Tablet PCs and 1:1 computing using DyKnow Vision is simply opening a new and possibly better way to create these Applied Econometricians for the job market.

Students in this class will have a number of writing assignments, both individual and coauthored by the end of the term. Their Job Market paper which all are currently working on is to be the subject of a department wide poster session (the brain child of Dr. Renna) which will include many major employers visiting that day to check out their future analysts. Pressure is on...

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