OOE13 Twitter chat on open education

As noted in the previous post, I helped facilitate an open online course called OOE13 (Open Online Experience 13) in 2013 and 2014. In April 2014 I was in charge of the topic of open education for the course, and we had a couple of Twitter chats. This was actually the first one though it is coming second here in my post order.

I’m archiving the tweets here because Storify is going away in a few days. So think of this post as having been here since 2014.

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OOE13 Twitter chat on OER

From Sept. 2013 to May 2014 I helped co-design and facilitate an open, online course for educators (Open Online Experience 2013)  on topics ranging from connected learning to digital literacy to digital storytelling to open education. The domain we had is no longer kept up and has some other website on it, so you can’t get information there. But you can see a couple of other posts about it under the OOE13 category here on my blog

In this post and the next one I’ll be pasting in Tweets from Twitter chats we had in April of 2014, when I was in charge of that month’s topic, open education. Now that storify.com is going away, I need to archive what I had there, here on my blog!

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Why Open Twitter chat on CC licenses and “Why Open?”

On August 29, 2014, I helped facilitate a Twitter chat for a course I was co-designing and facilitating called Why Open? at P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University).

I had this Twitter chat archived at storify.com, but since it’s going away I’m moving the Tweets here to my blog instead. So imagine that this post was made in 2014!

I took out some tweets whose URLs went nowhere; apparently they have left Twitter or moved their accounts…

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CLMOOC16 Find 5 Friday

I participated in #CLMOOC (connected learning MOOC) in the summer of 2016, at least a little bit (see a couple of posts in the CLMOOC category here on my blog).

I created a “Find 5 Friday” post on Storify during that time, and as Storify is shutting its doors and deleting all content in a week or so (May 2018) I’m archiving important stories from there, here on my blog.

So, this is from July 2016….

CLMOOC Find 5 Friday Week 1

http://clmooc.com/2016/make-cycle-1-make-with-me-who-are-we/

1. A thought-provoking thought

Nazife posted in the #clmooc Google plus group a couple of lines from Rumi:

“Why do you stay in prison

When the door is so wide open?”

If you click on the link to the G+ post above you can see the very apt image she posted, with these lines superimposed on it.

I found this very thought-provoking, and wondered what prisons I am staying in, even without realizing it. That is a theme for my #F5F (of which one is the Nazife’s post!). Some of the prisons I’m in are based in fear, so the following are ways I got past that this week.

2. Stealing and collaborating

Terry Elliott wrote a post in which he claims he “stole” a poem from Deanna Mascle and made something new from it.

He asked on his Google Plus post about this post, “We are collaborating with our #DailyConnect , but…what if the collaboration is unbidden.” He didn’t ask, he just took the original and made something new.

That’s something I’ve very familiar with from #ds106–taking what someone else has created, even without asking, and making something else. It’s part of the culture of sharing and making there. So this wasn’t surprising to me.

And what was really cool is that Deanna had made her original picture from words she collected from others in CLMOOC. Talk about collaboration!

Deanna’s also a great post on its own, putting together many people’s contributions to week 1!

3. So this is number 3…

It’s a great example of showcasing what others have done and doing something wonderful with it.

Notable Notes: Exploring Identity with/in #CLMOOC

2. Back to number 2

What was surprising to me was that even though at the end of his post above Terry invited us explicitly to collaborate on his own poem made from Deanna’s picture, I was really wary about doing so. Here is the Hackpad he invited us to play on.

I did add some things and created a section of the pad that could stand on its own as a poem, but I left the rest of what he had written at the bottom, as if afraid to touch it. As if I shouldn’t really mess with it. Sure, it was partly to leave it in case others wanted to use that part and make something new, but really it was because I felt very awkward taking someone else’s words and changing them.

And that’s strange to me because I do it all the time with pictures in #ds106, but somehow with writing it felt different. The words felt like they were more attached to the person and I shouldn’t mess with them. Even when Terry explicitly said to do so!

But I got over that and did it anyway, at least to some degree. So I got out of that “prison,” so to speak.

4. Unexpected smiles

Karen LaBonte wrote in her week 1 reflection that she has often started off strong in MOOCs but then:

“typically, within a couple of of weeks, I am floundering in the backwash of folks who seem to instinctively know the who, what, where, when, and why: who to talk to, when, what to say, what they want to gain from the experience, what they can offer others, etc. As I teetered on the cusp of CLMOOC2016, I wondered whether MOOCs are made for extroverts, which in many ways, I am not.”

I found this really important to consider. I am an extrovert online, someone who puts herself out there in many ways and hopes for the best. This week I shared my very personal grief over some of the horror that has been happening in the world this summer, as I struggled with my emotions on one of the days this week and decided to do a drawing to try to express them. I was a little worried about sharing that pain and that drawing with strangers, but I decided to try and got wonderful support back (and even Daniel Bassill making a remix of my drawing, which helped me immensely).

I appreciated the reminder that some people find open, online courses difficult and can get lost in the flow, feel somewhat left out when others seem to know exactly what to do. What I can say, though, is that so far I am finding CLMOOC to be a very inviting space and I hope that people who might otherwise flounder a bit can find their footing here in this kind, supportive, open and fun group!

I also loved Karen’s stories about the unexpected smiles she shared one day, one through Pokemon Go and one just from someone on the street who wished her a good day out of the blue. Knowing that that still happens, and there are wonderful people in the world, was something I needed to hear this week.

5. On the edge

One of the #dailyconnects for week 1 was to explore one’s edge.

What is your edge and how do you approach falling off? That resonated with the theme I’ve chosen for my #F5F this week, of what prisons I find myself in based in fear.

Sheri Edwards created a lovely picture in which she explores her own edge.

Sheri talks about going over the edge of shyness, and realizing that when you fall off, that is when you can fly. And grow, and change.

One of my edges currently is with drawing. It’s something I’ve always thought I just couldn’t do, even while others could. Recently I decided to, well, just start and practice–because how can you get good if you never do it? That’s one of my edges I’ll be pushing in #clmooc this summer, and I’m glad to have a supportive and kind bunch of people to push it with!

 

Tweets about open pedagogy & open edu practices

I’m archiving some Storify stories, since Storify is going away May 16 and deleting all content. I am following Alan Levine’s very helpful process and using his link extractor tool discussed towards the end of that post.

What I can’t easily figure out is where on this site I already have Storify embeds that are going to disappear. I tried to do a search for “storify” through the search function, but that probably only works if I actually say “storify” in the post. Which I don’t know if I did for each of those.

So, until I find posts where these Storify stories are, I’m going to create new posts so I at least have the tweet links in one place! Then hopefully later I can find where I put the darn things here on my blog. (Thanks a lot, Storify, for making our desire to archive really, really hard).

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Presentation on open pedagogy and open edu practices, Mt. Royal University

Poster for this event

For Open Education Week (March 2018) I was invited to give a keynote presentation/workshop on open educational practices and open pedagogy at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I titled it “Beyond cost savings: The value of OER and open pedagogy for student learning.”

They asked me to speak about open educational practices (OEP) and open pedagogy because, while the adoption, adaptation, and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER) was pretty well understood at their institution, the ideas of OEP and open pedagogy were not.

Being a philosopher, and based on my thinking about open pedagogy and OEP over the last year (see my blog posts on these topics), I used this opportunity to try to push my own thinking further around just how we might conceptualize these two topics. I also provided examples of what others had called OEP or open pedagogy.

There was a worksheet that accompanied the session, that people worked on individually and discussed in groups; we didn’t get as much time on this as I had planned (my fault…I talk for too long!)

OEP at Mt Royal, worksheet (MS Word)

And here are some notes I wrote up with plans for the session:

OEP at Mt Royal U, notes (MS Word)

 

Here are the slides from the talk…

You can download them in an editable Power Point file: Beyond Cost Savings, Mt Royal U, slides (pptx)

Some end-of-term thoughts on Intro to Philosophy

statue of Socrates, showing just the head

Socrates, by Ben Crowe, licensed CC BY 2.0 on Flickr.com

 

 

Classes for this term ended yesterday, and I have a few immediate thoughts/reflections after the term has finished, about my Introduction to Philosophy course that I wanted to write down so I don’t forget them when I’m planning for the next time!

Here are a few things I struggled with determining how to do best this term.

Lecture & non-lecture time during class

This class meets Mondays and Wednesdays for 50 minutes in a big group, and then students also attend one more 50-minute discussion group run by a Teaching Assistant. I run the M,W classes, and it’s often a struggle for me to figure out how best to balance lecture vs. active learning time in that class.

On one hand, there is a great deal of research literature showing that students learn better if they don’t only listen to lectures but also do something with what they’re learning. On the other hand, I do think lectures can be quite useful if done well (and I try my best!); plus, students need to have some kind of basic understanding before active learning on the material can be effective. This can be gotten through what they do outside of class, but just reading philosophy texts on one’s own, if one is new to philosophy, isn’t usually the best way to get that understanding. I have created a few videos to help students with some of the readings but these are time consuming to make and I haven’t made very many.

In addition, since students also attend a full discussion group meeting once a week, I feel like I don’t want to do too much in the way of activities in the M,W class because I need to leave some of that available for the other class.

I did a midterm survey to get feedback partway through the course, and most students seemed to think the balance of what we were doing in class was fine; some wanted a little more lecture, some wanted a little less, and there wasn’t a strong majority on one side or the other.

Still, I feel like I want to work on this more, partly because of the next thing.

What to include in lectures

One student on the midterm feedback survey made an important point: they said that they felt like the people who did the readings before class (which I ask students to do!) got punished, in a way, because the lectures often went back over the readings. I agree! I struggle with this too.

The issue with intro to philosophy courses is that philosophy texts are not always easy to read and understand, for those new to the field (and also sometimes even for those familiar with the field!). As a result, all of my experience as a student, a grad student TA, and visiting others’ philosophy courses at times, shows that we tend to ask students to do the reading before class and then we go back over the reading in class to clarify the arguments. It is of course critical for all of us to have the basics of the arguments before writing essays about the philosophical views.

But I think I can work on this further by having more guidance for students while they’re reading or just before class. So, videos to help break down the basics, or formative (non-graded) quizzes to help them get the basics before coming to class, e.g. This is not something that can be done quickly but I can build it up over time.

I also want to take more time in class to talk about how to take notes on philosophical texts, and find ways to encourage more note-taking while reading. One way would be to ask them to submit notes from time to time that are graded just for completion. I made that an optional way to earn participation marks this term and those who did it did a great job! The only thing that has kept me from making this required is the large number of students in this course (usually between 100 & 150), and the difficulty of keeping up with marking. But I’m going to give this some more serious thought.

Then we could do other things in class, like delve more deeply into potential criticisms of the arguments–if they have the basics first then we can go deeper in class.

Peer feedback on essays

Last year I asked students to submit their completed first essays for peer feedback: after they submitted their first essays, they shared with one other person who read the whole essay and gave feedback for the purpose of improving the writing for the second essay. On the student evaluations some students wanted to be able to use peer feedback before they submit the essay for a mark.

So I changed things this year and had students submit something for peer feedback before each essay. For the first essay they submitted a draft introduction paragraph with a thesis statement, plus topic sentences for each body paragraph. That was due a bit over a week before the essay, and then students got comments from two other students (ideally) before finalizing their essays. For the second essay we did something similar, though this time they could submit up to 350 words of a paragraph about one of the philosophers’ views, if they wanted, or the same kind of thing they submitted for the first essay. The purpose of the paragraph option was to get feedback on whether they got the philosophers’ views correct and on the balance between quotes and paraphrases in the paragraph.

We did the peer feedback online (on Canvas), and it worked mostly okay. The main concerns I had were that some people submitted work but didn’t give any feedback on others’ work. The system automatically assigns two other students’ work for each student who submitted something. So for the surprisingly significant number of people who didn’t do any peer feedback, those other students missed out on comments (the TAs and I offered to talk to students who didn’t get any feedback from any other students, to discuss their work–which is of course something any student could also do!).

I’m struggling with:

  • How valuable it is to get feedback on small snippets before submitting a full essay, as we did this year, or whether I should go back to having students provide feedback on a completed essay
    • If the latter, probably the option to rewrite the essay should be made available.
  • How to get students to actually do peer feedback online (make it worth more, perhaps)
    • Last year we did peer feedback in person–students could only participate if they came to class and exchanged their essay with someone else. This meant that students actually did it, but it also meant it couldn’t be anonymous. There are pros and cons for each!

 

Those are my initial thoughts here at the end of the term. I will do more reflecting after the student evaluations of teaching results are out!

PressEd 2018 Conference on Twitter

I participated in a “conference” that took place entirely on Twitter March 29, 2018–PressEd 2018, about using WordPress in Education. It was a very interesting format: all presentations were series of 10-15 tweets over the course of 15 minutes, leaving time for questions at the end.

All of the tweets were on the #pressedconf18 hashtag, so you can see them by searching that tag.

Or you can see each of the presentations as Twitter moments.

I did a presentation about connecting student blogs together through syndication, in the Arts One program I taught in for many years. You can see the Tweets from this below.

I really liked this conference, for a few reasons.

  • It didn’t feel like something I had to travel to in order to get a full experience, which meant it didn’t feel like some people got a different and better experience than others.
  • It was something I could dip into and out of during the day and didn’t feel bad about it because I knew it would all be available later.
  • The sessions were in small enough chunks to digest without feeling overwhelmed. One could get bite-sized thoughts and ideas that could percolate later. And there are lots of links to go explore for the things one is particularly interested in.
  • I was able to keep exactly on time because I created the tweets beforehand and then I scheduled them to be once a minute during my 15 minutes. I didn’t go over time or feel like I wished I had just five more minutes, for maybe once in my life.
  • The small character count kept me from being too wordy or trying to cover too much (which are issues I usually have). I have to say, though, this would have been much more challenging for me back in the 140-character limit days.

I didn’t get many questions or comments afterwards, but that was okay … I felt like others were dipping in and out just like I was, and plus–the sessions were really close to each other in timing and there wouldn’t have been time to have long conversations on the hashtag without busting into someone else’s series of tweets!

Here are the tweets I sent…  And looking back, I realize I really should have had more pictures or screen grabs or something. These are all just text and links, and many others had nice visuals. I hadn’t been thinking this way, but it makes sense to consider these tweets kind of like slides for a presentation, and I wouldn’t have slides that are *only* text. So I embedded some images here in my post, even though I didn’t do it in the original tweets.

Oh well…next time! I hope this format is used again by someone/some group (something for me to consider myself!).

 

Structure of Arts One

Screen shot of part of front page of Arts One Open site

 

Ooops–the link in the above tweet is wrong. It should be: http://artsone-open.arts.ubc.ca

Tag cloud of tags on Arts One Open (you can find student & prof blog posts, plus lecture recordings, plus podcasts through these tags)

Poster for Karasik’s guest lecture March 27, 2017.

 

Polarization and profits (#engageMOOC)

For topic 2 of #engageMOOC (Engagement in a Time of Polarization), we read an article by Chris Gilliard called “Power, Polarization and Tech,” and Chris was also part of live conversation for the course (I couldn’t join it live but watched the video recording). We also watched a couple of videos, and some of what by Zeynep Tufekci had to say in a Ted talk from September 2017 really stood out to me. Here I’m going to present some somewhat random reflections on both of these–things that really made me think.

Gilliard

I and a few others engaged in some annotations on his article “Power, Polarization and Tech” through hypothes.is. I noted there that, while I’m embarrassed to admit it, I hadn’t really fully grasped how social media, and perhaps other aspects of the web based on making money through keeping our attention, are designed in order to increase polarization. “Polarization is by design, for profit,” Gilliard notes, because it keeps our attention on the platforms that drive it (I mentioned this in my previous post for #engageMOOC as well).

It’s not just that Facebook and Twitter (for example) attract people who get enraged and abuse each other, nor that they don’t do enough to stop abuse (though they don’t), it’s also that people getting angry and outraged and posting about that new horrible thing the other side did is what these platforms require in order to continue to be financially viable…it’s what makes them tick. It’s built into the design of their profits so it’s not going to go away. At least not so long as those who create and run the platforms make their money through our attention and our data.

In the recording of the live discussion with Chris for the course, he points out how many of the apps and social platforms we use suck up our data in ways we don’t realize, and do with it things that we don’t know. He noted that when you update apps, you should re-do your privacy settings, which I hadn’t thought about before. The problem with this is not just “do you have anything to hide” but also that you have lost agency if you don’t know what’s happening. You can read the Terms of Service, of course, but they are often vague and don’t really tell you what is happening with your data. And it can end up, through being sold to others, affecting what kind of insurance you’re able to get (for example). Again, the issue here is in part about agency, about being in control, and we’re losing that with regard to our data.

Which is why, in my previous post, I wondered if one way to help address this issue would be to rethink how we engage on social media and in other apps. We have gotten used to the idea that the web is free (of cost in the sense of money) and so all of these wonderful free services seem like just the way things should be. But of course we are paying in other ways, and not just with our data; we are paying with divides between people built on outrage that is part of the bread and butter of our free services. And as we’ve been hearing lately, it’s all too easy for people to create bots who will stir up that outrage for political (or other) gains.

I have started to make a point of finding online apps and platforms I think are useful and paying for them. Partly this is to support those who I think are providing good things in the world, and partly because I think that this is one small way forward: if the people who create such things can make money in other ways, there will be less need for us to pay in data and attention (at least, I hope so). I realize I’m privileged in this regard; not everyone can pay for such things. And Gilliard notes in the live discussion the limitations of individual actions–just because I take shorter showers doesn’t mean things are going to change. I agree that bigger efforts on a larger structural level are required too. But smaller efforts aiming towards what one wants to see are at least something (and Gilliard notes they aren’t a problem, just not enough usually).

That’s one of the many reasons I prefer Mastodon to Twitter: I pay with money, not my data. And there are actually enforced rules against abuse (and a specific no-Nazi policy, as the instance I’m on is based in Germany). No emphasis on “freedom of speech is always good and we just need more of it to drown out the Nazis” kind of rhetoric on the instance I’ve joined. Find me at clhendricksbc@mastodon.social. I’m also at chendricks@scholar.social, but I post less there.

 

Tufekci

Zeynep Tufekci, by Bengt Oberger, licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

I really found her Sept. 2017 Ted talk quite powerful. I don’t have a lot of time so I’ll just mention one or two things in particular. Tufekci was talking about machine-learning algorithms and how the mountains of data that are being provided about us through our interactions with platforms and apps can lead to personalization of content. Some of it seems innocuous, like when you look at some product online and then ads for that product follow you around in other apps and platforms. Some of it even seems beneficial, like how you might get discounts on something you want, like tickets to Vegas. But it can be dangerous too, because the algorithms may realize that the people who are really likely to buy tickets to Vegas are those addicted to gambling, and since they have no ethics the algorithms will target such people. And further, they can work to provide you with more and more of worse and worse content once you start, e.g., watching something a little bit fringe or violent on YouTube–the suggestions on the right are poised to take you further and further down that path (which, as a parent  of a pre-teen boy I really paid attention to).

One thing that hit me in particular was that the personalization these algorithms can do can lead to use getting different content in our social and news feeds–that’s not news to me, but Tufecki pointed out something I hadn’t really focused on before: “As a public and as citizens, we no longer know if we’re seeing the same information or what anybody else is seeing, and without a common basis of information, little by little, public debate is becoming impossible ….”

If the algorithms are showing us different news stories (e.g. on Facebook) and posts from different people with very different political leanings (because they think you will like one kind of post and I another, and we don’t see the other posts even when we’re following the same people), then no wonder we end up unable to have effective public discussions.

I guess I have always held hope in the idea that people who genuinely want to come together and find solutions will do so. There are many people who really want to consider various sides carefully, who want to listen and consider the “other side” and whether there is anything there they should be paying attention to. But people like that are going to have a really hard time coming together if they don’t even have a shared basis of information or if the “other side” they see is interpreted through lenses that demonize them because this is what keeps your attention, and this is what the algorithms think you want in order to keep your attention.

 

Awareness as a first step?

This is all very depressing and all I can hope right now is that helping people see what is going on will encourage us to change the structures that continue to support it. Gilliard talks about looking at the EU as a start, where some of the privacy regulations are much more stringent than in the US as regards companies like Google and Facebook collecting data. It may take governmental regulation to help us move in the right direction. But it’s also going to take awareness on many people’s part to even see the problem.

 

 

“No devices” policies and accessibilty

 

The times they are a’changing, by Brett Jordan, licensed CC BY 2.0 on Flickr

 

I have had a couple of conversations here and there with faculty and graduate students about students using electronic devices in the classroom, and about policies that some instructors have saying that students aren’t allowed to use them at all (or that there are periods during a class where they must be put away, but other times when they can be used). I knew that sometimes students really need devices to succeed, particularly if they have certain kinds of disabilities; but I sometimes struggled to give good examples of when that might be the case, to help others see why electronic devices are critical for some students. In this post I’ll be giving a number of examples.

Can’t students just be excepted from the policy if they have academic accommodations?

Most instructors who won’t allow electronic devices in their classes make exceptions for students with documented disabilities that require device use for them to learn well (in most places such accommodations are required, I think). But there are still some concerns with this having the policy plus exemptions:

  • Students with those needs now have to stand out in a class in ways they wouldn’t otherwise, and in ways that could make them feel like they are divulging something they would rather not (and shouldn’t have to) divulge to others. They now stand out as the only one in the class (or, if they’re lucky, one of two) who gets to use a device while other students wonder just why they get to use one. I have seen a couple of students on social media say that as soon as they see a “no devices” policy on a syllabus they drop the class because of this concern.
  • Sometimes students’ needs may not quite get to the level required for official accommodations, but using devices makes it so that they can learn at the same level as those without those needs.
  • Getting the documentation required for accommodation can be costly, depending on where you live and whether the health care system covers that sort of thing. Some students may not be able to afford this cost. Tests needed can run into the hundreds of dollars or more. And sometimes they have to be redone every few years.

Now, I do see the need for requiring documentation for accommodations; I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that. It is important that all students who have demonstrated needs are treated impartially, and so there are rules applied to all that say what needs to be done for accommodations. But the question is: is it so important to stop device use that it means some students won’t be able to succeed as well in the course because of the second or third bullet point, above?

Some examples of when devices are critical to learning

To help make the case to others, I wanted better examples than I had already for why some students really rely on electronic devices to learn. So I asked on social media, and I got a long list! I’m going to paraphrase them here; some people divulged their own struggles, and even though they did so on a public social media site, I didn’t ask if I could embed those posts in this new medium of a blog post. So I’m just paraphrasing what people told me. And I’ve made a rough separation of them into categories.

 Motor control or other issues with hands

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain in hands
  • Dystonia
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Eczema can sometimes be bad enough that bending fingers as much as is needed for writing is difficult because broken skin
  • There can be difficulties with fine motor control in: ADHD, Autism (including Asperberger’s), Tourettes

Visual and auditory reasons

  • If slides are posted ahead of a class meeting, students with visual difficulties can follow along on their computers with adaptive tech that allows for magnification, font changes, or other changes to make the slides easier for them to see. (One person who posted this said that posting slides ahead of time can help all students, since they can go stay on a slide while they’re making notes about it even if the instructor moves forward, or they can go back to review something while the lecture is happening to better understand what is being discussed at that moment).
  • Students with visual difficulties may be able to touch type but have a harder time with handwriting; those with lowvision can can type on a computer and then either:
    • enlarge the font, change the font to one that is easier to read, or
    • print on a braille printer for later reading, or
    • use text-to-speech software to listen to the notes later.
  • Students with auditory issues (including low hearing, deafness, or Auditory Processing Disorder) may use software to have spoken words translated into written words in real time on their devices.

Cognitive and emotional reasons

  • Some students may have difficulty with eye contact (sometimes anxiety or autism can manifest this way), and need somewhere else to look.
  • Dyslexia and dysgraphia: students can look up words or use spell check to get them right in their notes
  • Problems with executive function can mean organizing many physical papers is difficult but having a single device with files organized into folders is easier

Language learners

  • Students who are still working on expertise in the language of instruction: they can look up words they don’t understand (Google is pretty good at fixing spelling if you have just heard the word but don’t know how to spell it).
  • Such students could also use devices to record lectures (with permission), since it can be hard to pay attention and process for long periods in a language you are not already expert in.

 

This is still not a comprehensive list, and as one person said on Twitter, there never can be one, since technology and adaptive tools are continually changing, and people may be using tech to support their learning in ways that no one ever thought of or even realizes.

 

Sitting in a certain part of the room

Many times, instructors justify “no devices” policies or “lids down” time in class in order to encourage students to avoid distracting themselves, and in particular, distracting others. The latter can be accomplished by asking students with devices to sit in a particular part of the room, and those who don’t want to be possibly distracted by others to sit elsewhere. I sometimes hear people saying that, given the physical makeup of laptops, they ask students with devices to sit in the back of the room.

This works from the perspective of those not wanting distractions to not have to sit behind those students with laptops who may be doing things on them unrelated to the class, but there’s a worry from the point of accessibility: sometimes those students who use laptops because they need them also have vision issues, and sitting in the back is going to make the situation worse for them (e.g., if the professor writes on the board; they may have the slides in advance and can look at those magnified on their screens at least).

So perhaps a better way of approaching the issue is to ask students with devices to sit on the sides of the room, whether in front or back? This is a genuine question…I am not sure this might not raise other problems, but at the moment it seems a possible compromise. I would want to make sure there is enough space on the sides of the room for all the students who want to use devices.

 

Your examples

Do you know of other examples of when/why students might need to use electronic devices in classes in order to succeed academically? Please put them in the comments below!