Tuesday, March 27, 2007

1:1 Computing and Econometrics - 1st Monday

Spring break ended with my 8 graduate students having had 10 days to enjoy and learn their new Gateway M285 Tablet PCs. We started with some trouble as half the class did not yet have the wireless client, but Jay got them set up as we started. I started the class explaining DyKnow Vision and having them logon to DyKnow for the first time. Instantly, each student had my notes on their screen and they could see any annotations I made on their own screen, while making their own annotations that remain private to their own notebooks.

Once everyone was logged in and I began talking about their PBL (problem based learning) assignment, I casually unplugged from the projector and no one noticed that the screen in the front of the screen went blue. This is because DyKnow Vision makes projection unnecessary as every student was focused on their screen.

Their first assignment: I asked the students over spring break to run a SAS multiple regression with all the matrices turned on and to then mark up the computer output using their digital pen to show the mathematical representations in matrix notation for every number they find in the output. Earlier in the course, they ran a SAS two-variable regression and marked up the printed output with ordinary ink pen. I asked them to reflect on the two methods. Of course they indicated that this way was much more fun, new, and exciting. Each student used MS Journal. They could take the output from SAS and 'print' it to Journal and then use the pen and mark it up. Students remarked that the writing was very much like normal and it was so much easier to change if they made a mistake. I spent a couple minutes showing how they can select their handwriting and resize it and move it as an alternative to erasing and rewriting.

We used the polling feature to great advantage. DyKnow Vision allows for the anonymous polling (exactly like clickers) within the software. I pick a polling screen, decide what the possible answers are (A-E, T/F, Yes/No, etc.) and press request answers. In seconds all the students have answered and I can display the results.

So I asked. "Compare the two assignments and ignore as best you can the newness and excitement of the Tablet PC as a toy and concentrate on the learning for you in the two assignments. Rate the use of the Tablet PC for your learning in these two assignments on a scale A-E where C is exactly the same in terms of learning, D and E show progressively worse learning using the Tablet PC and B and A are reflect progressively better learning learning using the tablet PC." The results are in, the class voted and of the eight students, the votes were A-1, B-6 and C-1.

We voted again, this time on selecting groups for the PBL. I wanted to know if they would want to keep their last group together (2 groups of 4) and asked them to vote. This time three said no and 1 was a no vote. Because it was so easy and anonymous to vote I asked again whether their strength of preference to change the group was very high, that is vote yes if you REALLY want or need the groups to be changed. This time the votes showed 8 NO votes. Within a minute I know that while 3 of the 8 wanted to change groups, no one had a strong preference and all in a way to allow total anonymity of the students.

Wed, we will talk more about the PBL and perhaps a minute paper. I closed reminding the students that their part of the experiment is to separate the fun of having fast new Tablets in class from their effect on learning econometrics using Tablets as on tool.

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