New Tech Teaching Habits

I think this question would make either a good meme or a good open thread:

What new routines have worked their way into your teaching-and-learning life as a result of the digital revolution?

I’ll share a couple of mine. I think history teachers will find the first one valuable, but teachers of any discipline can find and do similar things in their subjects.

1. Annotating Open Courseware University Lectures on Academic Earth, YouTube, Yale:

I’ve been watching UCLA Professor Lynn Hunt‘s European Civilization from 1750 to the Present course lectures on Academic Earth to review modern European history before teaching it in the semester beginning next month.1 I’m also watching Yale Professor John Merriman‘s course on the same subject.

Here’s the rub: Yale’s courses are better watched at Yale’s Open Yale site, where you can find transcripts, video downloads for iPods, and all sorts of supplemental goodies for each lecture. But I haven’t been able to find the UCLA course on any UCLA-hosted site, so all we have for Prof. Hunt’s course is Academic Earth’s video. That means no transcripts or text of any sort. [Update: UCLA has a YouTube channel that allows downloads of the lectures — something Academic Earth doesn’t do. I’m putting my floating stickies on the YouTube lectures too. Here’s the Modern Western Civ course playlist.]

Dr. Hunt’s a fine lecturer. She opens each class with a musical or artistic piece from the period covered, for example, and discusses its significance in the wider historical context. Her lectures are also well-organized, tight, and interesting. So my new routine, as the screenshot below shows, is a simple one: While I watch a lecture, I have a Diigo floating sticky-note open on the page, and simply outline the lecture with time-stamps. You can see it live here, if you have Diigo [Update: And here on YouTube]. Obvious uses:

  • I — or anybody else — can use the time-stamp to show exactly the segments wanted in class.
  • I can also adapt and/or condense the entire lecture for my own presentations in my classes. Simply extract the time-stamp and notes on my Diigo page, print them out if needed, and voila — an outline for a lecture, presentation, or discussion.

Again, this is simple and no big deal. It’s just taking notes while watching a video. But the cool thing is, other teachers worldwide (if they use Diigo) can share mine and add their own. (Among other possibilities.)

Here’s the screenshot:

Dr Hunt's UCLA lecture

Dr Hunt's UCLA lecture, my Diigo floating sticky-note (click for larger image)

2. Planning Classes While Walking to School with iPod/iPhone Voice Memo

ipod voice memo image

Talking to Yourself is Good

I love Voice Memo. My daily routine in Singapore is an hour metro ride to school, then a 10-minute walk from the metro station to my classroom. I use it as planning time, and my best tool is my iPod Touch’s Voice Memo app. My iPod earbuds have a mic in the wire, so all I have to do is spend five minutes or so thinking about how I want to structure the day’s classes, and talk it into my iPod. When I get to school, I listen to the voice memo to write my lesson plan on the board.

I know some people can plan classes weeks in advance, but I’m not one of them. Too many ideas worth incorporating come in the days,  even the hours, before the class. So this has been a godsend for me. I don’t forget my best ideas, and don’t have to write them down. I literally talk to myself as I walk to class about the best ideas I have for the day.

Again, no big deal. A drunk could do this in his worst hangover. And that’s the beauty: low-labor, high-leverage changes in routine, thanks to new tools.

What about you? Any to share?

And Happy New Year, by the way. May the five-fingered fist of fate always smash the mean person next to you, and pet you like a kitten until 2011.

  1. Be warned: the audio is sometimes bad, but the lectures are quite good. Dr. Hunt’s a trooper for not tearing off the microphone and telling the tech crew she’s mad as hell and not going to take it any more. []

7 thoughts on “New Tech Teaching Habits”

    1. Hi Will,

      It’s good to be alive to see it, so no complaints (publicly, at least).

      Your nudge made me spend a good five or six hours exploring Evernote yesterday. I couldn’t make it do basic things like show a page layout for print or pdf, etc. I can’t even see how to export files in your basic formats. I can’t annotate with it socially in any invisibly easy way. So I’m not feeling a lot of love.

      I can see how it’s a great “cloud file cabinet,” for sure. But beyond that, why do you like it so much?

      Hope ’10’s good for you.

      1. When I took a peek at the included earbuds that came with my Touch, I saw a tiny little input grill on the same area as the volume controls. I tested it out with the voice memo software (I had been wondering why that was included!) and sure enough, it worked! Someone I was chatting with said it may not have been included with the 1st gen Touches… So I’m not even out any extra money.
        .-= Clarissa´s last blog ..12 Days of Christmas: EFL Classroom 2.0 =-.

  1. I’m now back in the classroom for the first time in three years teaching a personal finance class. Three years ago i was sans a PLN. This time around i’d say google docs and wikispaces are a new must have as well as a great wireless connection in the room and a liberal filtering policy at the school.

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