Strategies in a Computer Classroom
Teaching in our computer classrooms should be an advantage to you and to your students. We are here to help assure that it is.
We know that the technology can seem intimidating rather than helpful, especially when you are new to the computer classroom. A range of resources is available to provide support and information: this online manual and the Computer Classroom Directory, the Labfolk email list and, most useful of all, the officemates and instructors across the hall who also teach in our computer classrooms. There are between eighty and ninety of us teaching in computer classrooms each fall; please let us help.
- Even experienced computer classroom teachers can be apprehensive about new programs and techniques.
- No one learns this stuff all at once. Keep asking questions even when you know you've heard the answer somewhere.
- Get to know the instructors who teach before and after you at your site.
- Don't try to do everything at once. Even experienced instructors usually adopt only one new program or approach per semester.
We hope you will find these pages and the Open House before classes start helpful, but experience suggests that both instructors and students only really learn to use computers at the computer and in the classroom, setting up a class exercise or performing it. The best help for such experiential learning is advice from experienced instructors as you need it. This manual gets shorter and shorter the better we understand this principle.
Suggestions for Planning the Semester
- You might want to assign fewer and longer writing problems and place more emphasis on revising the assigned papers than you do in the traditional classroom.
- You may want to have students do more of their writing in class not writing in-class papers, but working, with your guidance and peer assistance, on papers that they will submit later.
- You may find that rigid due dates get in your way. You may wish to set a deadline of "the week of October 9" rather than "October 11," for example. Or at least "the end of the day" rather than "before class" or "before you leave" to allow time for printing problems. Asking 26 students to stand in line and print before class ends may waste time, and the printer may fail. (And dot matrix printing, though free in Residence Hall labs and Durham 91, is loud and unreliable)
- Plan for students to collaborate as they work. Most real-world writers seek reactions and advice from peers, and the computer makes such collaboration easy. Your classroom environment should encourage students to exchange ideas.
- Establish a daily routine so that the students can start to work without oral instructions at the beginning of class. Such a routine reinforces the idea of the computer classroom as a workplace rather than a playroom.
Routines that Have Worked for Others
- At the end of each class meeting the teacher designates one student to pose the Question of the Day (based on the reading assignment) for the next meeting. Before class, the student logs on to Interchange or email and sends the Question. As students enter the classroom, they log on and respond to the Question for the first 15 minutes of class. They can read others' replies and continue online discussion and the teacher can compact the session for later use.
- The teacher uses Word files to post the daily assignments in her Announcements folder. These files usually contain tasks to be completed by the end of the class period. Students read the assignment upon entering the lab and begin work.
Questions about what to do next or how to do it? Contact me.
Jim Noland · 443 Ross Hall · email@example.com · (515) 294-4186