Classes are out, but our school is having a "Teaching with Technology" conference this week that I plan to catch some of. A lot of it is focused on teaching on-line courses, which I really have very little interest in doing. I teach because the dynamics of a classroom full of people often makes for a fun experience, fun enough to make up for the annoyance of bored students sleeping or texting. But there are other session that are about using stuff to aid classroom learning that might be of value.
So, here's what I learned:
GAMES GOOD! There was a session about on-line games that can be used to liven up a classroom, while educating at the same time. Some of them I have to play a bit, but I instantly fell in love with a game called BUDGET HERO, which is available here from America Public Media's Marketplace. Want to fix the Federal Budget? Want to move us to a society more interested in health care, or the environment? Want to see what is going to happen to Social Security and Medicare in the years to come. Go check it out. Very cool, fun and easy to use. And, for those of you who read this who are former students, I apologize for not finding this earlier.
TWITTER BAD! Another session was on the use of Twitter. If you haven't heard of Twitter, you must live in a cave. When I first heard of it, I thought it was stupid. Millions of people fervently writing about picking up their dry cleaning....who gives a shit. And it has gotten so much publicity lately, what with Obama tweeting, and Oprah getting her legions of drones to sign on and crash the site, I thought I should at least learn more about it. Here's what I learned: 1) It wasn't working when the class went to sign up. 2) It can probably be useful for some purposes and 3) Who the hell has the time to do this all day. Conclusion: Life is too short to be wasted with this kind of nonsense. Like most things that suddenly become really popular (NASCAR, Brittney Spears, AMerican Idol), I don't get it, and I choose not to participate.