Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Is there a radical change coming in academia thanks to instructional technology?

This topic has long been a passion of mine and hence this blog is just one outlet for various ideas. In San Diego at the AEA meetings I presented "Six Uses of Technology to Improve Teaching and Learning," (pdf file) January 2004. The fundamental conclusion is that technology should only be used if it meets two conditions: (1) "professor time should be reduced of the repetitive and mundane chores that a computer can do so well or professor time should be used more efficiently" and (2) "student learning should not be harmed and if possible significantly advanced. The six uses are (I) electronic grading, (ii) interactive presentations, (iii) electronic CATS (classroom assessment techniques), (iv) mastery learning testing, (v) electronic portfolios, and (vi) active engagement activities.

Another paper in this mold is by Kim Sosin and Bill Goffe "Teaching with Technology: May You Live in Interesting Times," (pdf file) July 2004. {this paper is no longer there --- Please find it in the Journal of Economic Education. William Goffe and Kim Sosin, "Teaching with Technology: May you Live in Interesting Times" invited paper, Journal of Economic Education, 36(3), Summer, 2005, 278-291.} In my first read through of that paper I am reminded that in my paper, I take the communication enhancement function of computers and the internet for granted and thank them for that reminder. I am also reminded that I marveled when I first discovered that I could prepare overheads on a laser printer in the early 90s. These two papers are an expression of how far we have come. and both point to a future of even more possibilities. Still my two requirements should always be the yardstick by which these technologies should be measured.

I have dabbled in online office hours ("Virtual Office Hours: Tutoring Distance Students in Mathematics, Statistics and Economics" presentation to the Ohio Commons for Digital Education 2004 Conference. March 8-9, 2004), synchronous video distance learning ("The U of Akron Distance Lerning Systems", 1997), asynchronous distance learning, ("Do On-Line Students in a Mastery Based Principles Course Analyze, Synthesize and Evaluate Better Than Face-To-Face Students? pdf file, Presentation to NAEE/CSEE sessions, ASSA meetings, San Diego, January 5, 2004 ), tests of learning styles, (VARK web site), games (Aplia web site), digital ink technology ("Digital Pen Technology in Lecture Presentations," Good Practice Showcase, The Economics Centre of the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN), Universtiy of Bristol, UK, January 2004.), electronic white boards ("SMART Sympoduim: Interactive Lectern Integration Module - Various uses of the Sympodium in teaching," Educause, Atlanta, October 2002 ) and Tablet PCs (see elsewhere in this blog), all mentioned in the concluding section of Sosin and Goffe, but their last sentence is a challenge to all of us, is there a "radical change further down the road that may fundamentally change academia (Sosin and Goffe, p. 22)"?

Lets hear your comments on this question. How will it happen, what is the future? How can instructional technology help us in our mission of enhancing economic literacy? -- Steve

Monday, December 27, 2004

Teaching Workshops, Conferences and Sessions

Ever feel you are in the dark about the opportunities to participate in faculty development activities specifically in economics?

A new webpage is available to help all of you who are seeking to know what is being done in economic education long before it comes out in the journals. Many of these opportunities include the use and valuation of technology. This page is developed and maintained by Steven C. Myers and KimMarie McGoldrick (more info) following an initial meeting of organizers of economic education workshops and conferences at the 2004 Southern Economics Association meetings. KimMarie organized the panel session at which the concept of a consortium of workshop and conference organizers emerged. This page is the first step in leading to greater coordination of events and greater service to the economics teaching profession.

Please visit the page and use the features to contribute information or the watch that page button to be reminded when changes are made. See you at the conferences, workshops and sessions. Let me know what you think.