As I sit here working on this blog entry, the view out my window looks like a scene from the movie Doctor Zhivago. Hope it is warm and sunny wherever you are today.
I gave my first introductory accounting exam yesterday (before the snow storm). Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy. I am not a fan of test banks but I do think professors should exchange their tests just to get ideas for what might work. One of my favorite blog entries is from January 31, 2010: “How You Test Is How They Will Learn.”
Anyone who has read this blog for long already knows that I am not a fanatical user of modern technology. I have never once used Power Point in a class. Never. I do not allow computers to be open during class (too much temptation to play games or text message). I am more interested in what students can do with their minds than I am in what they can do with a computer.
However, I do make extensive use of email. I am sure that some of my students would say that I am an obsessive user of email. I believe in a lot of honest and open communication between teachers and students. I must average over one email per day for the entire semester. There are just a lot of things that I think students need to be thinking about outside of class.
As I have discussed before in this blog, I also produce audio files for my financial accounting course to help those students who are more audio learners. They are able to listen to a series of questions and answers that guide them through the material in each chapter.
Plus, my Financial Accounting textbook (written with C. J. Skender of UNC) has 68 videos that I made that approach the material from various directions.
So, I do use some technology despite my claims to avoid technology. I like to think that I pick and choose what I use based on what I am trying to accomplish.
I have long admired the work of the Kahn Academy and their scratchy homemade looking presentations that students can study outside (and sometimes inside) of class.
Last week, one of our technology gurus here at the University of Richmond told me about a new app for my iPad called “Explain Everything” that cost $2.99. I downloaded it and he gave me a 15 to 20 minute lesson. Even with my limited knowledge of technology, I picked up the basics relatively quickly.
One thing for sure: the more you practice with this app, the better you get at the process.
I am not yet exactly sure how I am going to use “Explain Everything” but I am certainly going to try to use it. I can see real benefits. For my first efforts, I used it after a couple of classes to help my students better understand what we had covered in class. Students often leave class with a loose, vague understanding of the material. They need some efficient way to help them solidify that knowledge in their heads. To me, how that time after class is used is often the difference in real understanding and disorganized knowledge. I think this type of presentation can help.
In the future, I am also going to use it occasionally before class to help students be better prepared. I wonder, for example, if a class will go better if I provide a 5 minute “preview of our upcoming class” the day before. Maybe yes, maybe no. But I’d like to see.
I honestly do not know how this app will work but I want to practice and see. So far I have invested $2.99 and 15 minutes of time on one lesson.
Here are two presentations that I made for my students right before our first test. I picked out end of chapter material from the textbook that we had not discussed in class and simply walked them through the answers. I am trying to take out some of the mystery.
I apologize for the primitive look of some of this but I am learning through practice and still have a long way to go. “Explain Everything” seems to have an infinite number of tools that you can play with.
And, here is an entirely different type of presentation that I did just to learn more about the available tools.
Try it. I think you might well find it quite helpful.