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:
2. Planning Classes While Walking to School with iPod/iPhone Voice Memo
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.
- 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. [↩]