I’m at CollabTech at Case Western, and came in late on a session about blurring the lines of ontrol in classrooms.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

As I come in, Bill Deal is talking about encouraging students to tweet material related to the class. The students took to it, posting links to materials from around the Web. They averaged about 15 tweets (if I got that right). He says he’s tried other tech in classrooms, but this one really worked. In response to a question, he says that there was no interaction among twitterers outside of the class; they discussed using a hashtag, but some students wanted to keep their tweets private-ish.

Bernard Jim talks about his experience teaching 17-student seminars in which the students are expected to produce knowledge, not just consume it. He says the physical geography of the classroom puts all the tech at the front of the room, under the teacher’s control. [Surely they have laptops, though.] He begins each session by playing a song relevant to the day’s topic, and invites the students to play their music. The students initially resist this, but then take it up. The aim is for them to take possession of the tech in the classroom. He also wants them to understand that their cultural experiences are relevant to the course. (Bernard is a cultural historian.)

For example, he has them reading Burke on the sublime, who references Milton. “So, I’m teaching an 18th century philosophy who references a 17th century poet, to 21st century students who can be put off by a movie if it’s in black and white.” Burke asks what a frightening sound is: “a low tremulous intermitting sound.” So, Bernie plays a YouTube of the Halloween theme, to try to connect their experience to Burke.

Sometimes the students bring in their own references. E.g., in a class on letters discussing a letter from Abelard to Heloise (or was it vice versa), they brought in “Dramatic Reading of a Break-up Letter.”

In a different class they were talking about hypermasculinity, as in some of Michelangelo. The students responded with College Humor’s Power Thirst.

He also has a class on puzzles, which is “an extremely interactive class.” Once a week they have a puzzle challenge. On Pi Day (3/14), they took the Pi Day Challenge, up on the big screen. “You have a whole bunch of students yelling at me, which is what I like.”

Q: Do you ever get inappropriate student suggestions?
A: Yes, sometimes.
A: [bill deal] One tweet was “Great film of boobies” that turned out to be about birds.

Michael Kenney who teaches chemistry provided Kindles to 50 students. A third loved it. A third thought it was great for reading books, so they gave it to their parents [he says jokingly]. And a third sold it on ebay. Within class, it usefully kept all their texts in one place, although the lack of a file structure was a problem. But he got sued. ‘[He doesn't say why and I didn't find any info on a quick search.]

So, now they use the Entourage eDGe, which has a touch-sensitive Android tablet on one side and an ebook reader on the other. He’s hoping students can use these as their lab notebooks. [See Jean-Claude Bradley's open notebook idea.] So far, he’s having the same results as with the Kindle. For one thing, the OS is underpowered and out of date. The eDGe concept “is very good, but it’s not going to replace” analog devices. His sits on a shelf, unused.

Q: [me] Have you connected with J-C Bradley.
A: Yes. Our aim is to have a cloud-based note-taking system. Bradley’s ideas are very good,.

Christine Hudak [twitter:infomatics1] , in the nursing school, has her students use twitter feeds to keep up with the ever-changing info. All the nursing students had to tweet, because social media are now being used with patients in hospitals. No personal tweets were allowed, although some students ignored that rule. They also had a private Facebook group page that they used for info sharing and communicating about projects; it was strictly student-driven. Christine didn’t see it until the end of the semester, and was very impressed. The page is being passed on to next year’s class.