Professor Technology

The New York Times has given technology another praise worthy review in the article “A Scholarly Role for Consumer Technology.” It seems many Parisian Business schools have begun using everyday technology such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Students are given access to these online tools through tablets such as i-Pads. Schools such as Essec believe these social media sites are much more resourceful than other programs that cost money.

Using free social networking sites allows professors to keep in contact with students both inside and outside the scheduled class times. In large lecture halls it is often easier to send a message using technology than to raise your hand and wait to be called on. The article also mentioned the use of electronic textbooks (see post Personalize Your Textbook); which can make using classroom textbooks a whole lot easier for students.

These business schools have found an effective and inexpensive way to make their classrooms run more smoothly with technology that many of their students are already well acquainted with. Maybe in the future more schools — not just business schools — will begin to use this type of technology to better their classes.

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Teaching the Whole Student

Ann Neilson, Department chair of the Physical Education Department, discussed what she does in her winter sports class to teach the whole child. She came up with five dimensions for this: social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual (SPIES). For the social aspect Neilson has her students socialize with one another. They form groups early on in the semester to discuss issues they may be having with school or in their personal lives. Neilson brings her students to the von Trapp Family Lodge located in Stowe, Vermont. Her students then engage in cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, maple sugaring, and nutrition lessons. For the emotional, Neilson tries helping her students deal with stress – this is done in a number of ways. The European challenge was mentioned as a way to deal with stress. This activity involves rolling in snow and then getting in a hot tub. For those not brave enough for the European challenge there is always tea and lecture time in the afternoon. Neilson says that the lecture is often disguised as fun so her students do not even realize they are being lectured. The winter sports class also has sing-a-longs for stress relief. Neilson then discussed the intellectual and spiritual dimensions – which she grouped together. For these two dimensions she has her students read a book written by Maria von Trapp that The Sound of Music based on. This experience helps the students understand the history behind the family who owns the von Trapp Family Lodge.

Mary Fitzsimmons, Director of HEOP/ACCESS, and Marcy Nielsen Pendergast, director of the Academic Support Center discussed the many challenges facing students today and what their departments do to help these students. Nielsen Pendergast works with students who need academic support, have disabilities, or are on probation. She said that many of the students she works with are at risk academically, socially, and/or financially. With today’s economy many students have to work a part-time or even full-time job in order to afford to continue with their education. These students are at risk of leaving school because of the stress of going to school full-time and working. Another challenge for students today is that they are coming to college lacking the writing and math skills they need in order to succeed. There has been a large increase in the number of college students who utilize the writing center. Many students are also coming in requesting help with reading their textbooks, with tutorial requests, or with requests for help with time management. What is being done to help these students? Time management can often be a big factor in why students struggle, so they are helped with planning a weekly schedule for their academic and personal lives. The college also tries to provide emotional support for students. They want to foster an atmosphere where students feel comfortable talking with at least one faculty member. Three trends as to why students may be struggling have become very noticeable. The first trend is an increase in anxiety. Studies have shown an increase in anxiety in children born between 1989 and 2003. The college’s response to this is to help increase students’ resilience with the formation of a program called Knight Skills for freshman and transfer students. Knight Skills helps students deal with the problems first time college students encounter. The second trend is a high dropout rate for students who are the first generation of their family to go to college. These students don’t necessarily have moral support from family members who understand what they are going through. The last trend is the effect dorm life can have on a student. There are so many outside influences affecting students on a college campus (loud noises, parties, sickness, roommates, etc.). One last factor that is affecting student dropout rates is the stress students will be facing when trying to find a job after graduation. Many people are contemplating why they should spend so much money on an education if they won’t have a job to pay off their loans when they graduate.

Links:

HEOP/ACCESS

Academic Support

Podcast of November Session

E-read Anyone?

Many people are diving head first into the age of technology.
However, there still seem to be a large group of people who are still holding onto
one old school way of having fun – reading books. There are still many out
there who come up with excuse after excuse as to why they won’t invest in an
e-reader. For example: They are too expensive. I can’t read writing on screens.
My friends and I like to trade. I like to take out books from the library.

Well, an e-reader will more than pay for itself after buying
a handful of e-books for a lot less than the paper versions. Many of the
e-reader screens are specifically designed to look like the pages of a book.
Some e-readers (like the Barnes and Noble Nook) allow for lending. And finally,
Professor Hacker just announced that
Amazon is creating a type of lending library for their Kindle owners.

What does this have to do with education? Well, the rising
cost of textbooks has put a huge strain on many professors, students, and
school districts. E-readers could solve a lot of problems by providing cheaper textbooks
for students, professors, and schools. It would be wonderful if schools could
rent out e-readers to their students with the required books already downloaded
onto the devices. How could this be done? Well, some e-readers are connected to
the owners personal e-mail address. So in theory a school could connect several
e-readers to one e-mail address and only have to pay for a book once. Some
college libraries already offer e-readers to be loaned out for short periods of
time (usually to look at magazine and newspaper subscriptions the school has
access to).

If you still aren’t convinced that e-readers are a good idea
then check out this site for books sales.

http://www.booksalefinder.com/NYU.html

Extra-curriculars, Part-time Jobs, and More

Studies have actually shown that physical
activity not only makes a healthy body but it can also make a healthy mind. So
the question is why are we cutting programs that keep our students active? If
what we want are better test scores then why not increase funding or at least
the amount of time for physical activity? Edweek.org discusses this and more in the article “How Schools Fight Youth Obesity During Tough Budget Times
Test
scores are not the only positive increases that can come from an increase in
activity. The benefits of being on a sports team have been preached for years.
The many benefits of students joining sports teams are hi-lighted in the EdWeek blog post “EdWeek Bloggers Tackle Youth Obesity, Value of Sports.”

Even
College Board has given an opinion on activities for students. A page on
the College Board website gives the pros and cons of teenagers carrying part
time jobs while in school as well as suggestions for student advisement for
school staff.

Although
several years old, ASCD’s article “Part-Time Work and Student Achievement” by
John H. Holloway can still be looked at as a good indicator of how part-time
positions can affect students. However, Holloway definitely focused more on the
negatives compared to the positives. He stated such problems as decreased
GPA’s, increased school absences, and an increase in drug and alcohol abuse in
students with part-time jobs compared with those students who do not hold part
time jobs.

Over two
years ago Doug Lederman wrote an article for ASCD on college students who have jobs.
Two years later this article seems more important than ever. With the
danger of loans being reduced or taken away and colleges increasing tuition
costs every year, students need to be employed not just for extra pocket-money
but in order to pay their way through school. Research results were similar to
those done on high school students with part-time jobs. More hours equal lower
grades. Since not working is not an option for these students many of them may
find it difficult to balance their schedules.

Some students may also find themselves paying
to take part in extra-curricular activities that were once free. Budget cuts
have really impacted the amount of money schools can invest in sports and
school clubs. Alvina Lopez reports on the MSTA Blog that these activities are needed in schools because
studies have shown participation in extra-curriculars can actually help improve
student performance. They can also help foster a connection between the
students and faculty who become involved with them.

Many students may be seeking out extra-curricular activities
or sports because of the mentorship some of these activities offer. Coaches and
advisors often make great mentors for students. School Book recently posted an article in the New York Times on a mentor program
sponsored in the Bronx that brings together public and private schools.

Why might students need mentorship or other programs
similar? Well stress can play a major role in a student’s life. There are so
many stressors in a child’s life from homework to home problems to college
applications.  The New York Times recently posted an article on how one school
helps students deal with the stresses of life.

The Huffington Post recently had an article discussing
the different actions to take for applying to colleges (Early Action and Early
Decision). The article went on to discuss the reasons behind applying early as
well as the pros and cons.

One of the most stressful times for a student and their
family can be college decision time. While some students may be debating
whether to apply early action or early decision some are still deciding on
where they even want to attend college.
Getting ready for college life can be very stressful. Nancy Berk reports
about these stressful times in the
Huffington Post
article College
Anxiety: Modern Families Caught in the Middle
. ”

While high school juniors and seniors are making decisions
on what colleges to attend, college students are making decisions on what
classes to attend or in some cases not attend.
It is often hard for professors to determine why a student is absent
from their class. While some students skip on a regular basis there are still
those out there who dread missing a class and hyperventilate when they do.  Read more on this subject in “The Good Skip.”

So what do all of these articles and posts have in common?
They all discuss student life outside of the classroom. There is so much more
going on in a student’s life then what they are learning inside your classroom.
Some of them may have part-time jobs to
worry about. Others may need to be on a sports team or in a club in order to
round out their life. These activities can often be beneficial to students who
are facing the major stresses of adolescence or the beginning of adulthood. In
other words, a student’s life does not stop outside the classroom; which is why
it is important to educate the whole child. The brain is not the only body part
that needs nourishment.