NECC 02

Welcome to the conference.

Unless you are enrolled in a pre-session workshop, Sunday is check-in day. NECC conferences are always held in large convention centers.

NECC Sign 02

In San Antonio, the center is located on the famous River Walk.

NECC Riverwalk

Convention attendees have opportunities learn about technology in various ways, but there is an emphasis on using technology. One new opportunity this year involves “beaming” info about the convention to your hand-held. I knew I would forget something so unfortunately I will not be able to say much about how it works.

Palm at NECC02

Bluefish Wireless.

NECC 2002

We are now in the last phase of our preparation for NECC

Wildflower

We will attempt to add some images from the conference tomorrow.

A blogger comment: I have used and even written the scripts for a web pages that can append new content to an existing web page. At first, I thought this might be what a blog server did. However, this is not exactly the case. Entries are saved in a way that allows an individual entry to be edited at a later point in time. The opportunity to edit individual entries increasing the efficiency of maintaining a blog.’, ‘NECC 2002’, 1, 0);

We will attempt to add some images from the conference tomorrow.

A blogger comment: I have used and even written the scripts for a web pages that can append new content to an existing web page. At first, I thought this might be what a blog server did. However, this is not exactly the case. Entries are saved in a way that allows an individual entry to be edited at a later point in time. The opportunity to edit individual entries increasing the efficiency of maintaining a blog.

NECC 2002

Cindy and I are presenting at NECC. Our presentation concerns some of our experiences in using technology in the field. The NECC description for our presentation is online.We will be talking about gathering data with probes, the use of digital cameras and video, digital microscopes and related projects.

Probe

A little more about blogs:What you see here is a little misleading. Blogs are sometimes promoted as an alternative to having to know something about HTML or a sophisticated web authoring program. This is only partially true. It turns out that it can be helpful to know html. I can create some of the effects you see here (bold text, links) by entering html commands when I enter the text.

It also a little misleading to claim blogs are free. If I wanted to stick with pure text, this would be the case. However, I wanted to be able to include images from NECC, so I spent $35 (for the year) to be able to upload and link images. I have experience with only one blogging site so I cannot really say what options are available in other programs.

Here are some blog resources:Blogger.comMoveable TypeThere are several other options so if this interests you consider conducting a web search.

NECC 2002

OK — just in case you don’t know and were wondering — what is a blog?

Blog is web slang for “web log.” Think of a blog as a web page that the author continues to update with new and typically short comments. Blogs entries tend to be dated and the entry appearing at the top of the page is the most recent. Blogs are created using a simple web form through a service provided on a remote server. There are several such services and basic blogs can be created for free. Blogs are either hosted on the remote server or can be ftp’s to a server of your choice.

We must admit that we are new to blogging and we are learning as we go. The experience of jumping in and trying a new technology venture in a public way is becoming a pattern of learning for us. We think this is a great way to learn and we would encourage you to take the same approach.

It seems to work best for us if we learn within the context of an actual project. Here is our proposed project. We will be attending the National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio (June 17-19). Experiences at NECC should provide us something to write about. We intend to share both our NECC and blogging experiences with anyone who might be interested. We hope the combination will be of some value.

History of weblogs

The Beginning

iv. to teach them this techne, should they desire to learn [it], without fee and written covenant, and to give a share both of rules and of lectures, and of all the rest of learning, to my sons and to the [sons]of him who has taught me and to the pupils who have both make a written contract and sworn by a medical convention but by no other. (from the Hippocratic oath – translated)
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nhttp://www.indiana.edu/~ancmed/oath.htm

Wiki Notes

This is a very long post. Skip to the last couple of paragraphs if you are only interested in what I have to say about wiki applications.

One of the weird things about social science research is that advances are pretty much regarded as equivalent to “significant” outcomes. As an applied researcher, you can find a way to evaluate what folks who don’t do research argue is a great idea, but if the data do not support the claim, you cannot publish the results. Yes, there is all of the stuff you learn in methods classes about not being able to prove the null hypothesis. But, what about the claims made by those who do not worry about data. What information is available to counter such pronouncements.

In my life as a researcher, one of the themes I pursue is the possibility that technology offers opportunities to improve the study effectiveness of novice college students enrolled in unsupportive course environments.  I translate this description as those 200 or so freshmen (and women) taking my class in Introduction to Psychology. These are students new to the college environment who often have undeveloped study skills, mediocre reading comprehension scores, and a range of motivational issues including a lack of understand as to why they are enrolled in the course in the first place. They are assigned a 400+ page book and they listen to me talk for approximately 2 hours per week. They do have an hour experience with a graduate student in a small group setting. It is not my decision to teach in this manner. I would love to interact with a dozen or so highly skilled and motivated students who have read widely and come to class prepared to discuss and debate. I actually also have this experience, but that would be my graduate class (sometimes). It is a matter of economics – the less skilled students pay their money and sacrifice so that more productive environments can be provided should the less accomplished students survive for a year or so. However, the basic economics of a state school college education are not the issue here.

My solution is to look for situations in which an economy of scale can be brought to bear on the learning process. I do not consider what happens in my classroom learning. I consider what happens there as information presentation. Yes, I know that others feel their classroom encourages a great deal of thinking and learning. I have heard the sage on the stage vs. guide on the side comparison. Cute – but not very insightful. To me, this is an issue of degree. Learning takes a good deal of time. Learning, the personal integration of new information with existing knowledge and skills, DOES NOT happen in a couple of hours a week. College works a little differently than high school. I cannot study with many of my students. I must assume they can study on their own. I must assume they can think, read, discuss, ponder, identify personal examples of key concepts, etc. outside of the room in which they for the most part simply listen to me. I only hope that I offer them something to ponder, discuss, etc.

What I may be able to do is to understand some aspects of the personal learning process as it relates to the environment my students and I share and create tools that guide (as in guide on the side) specific aspects of cognitive activity within this general environment. Again, what happens outside of the classroom may be more much more important than what happens within the classroom.

One topic that interests me concerns note taking and note reviewing. How might these processes be improved. I have studies in which I have evaluated the costs and benefits of giving students lecture outlines and lecture summaries. These resources can improve the note taking and note studying processes. Outlines identify key ideas and the structure of presentations and offers a resource that can be used to take notes. Lecture summaries, prepared by “expert students”, can serve as a more complete record of the presentation than many students take themselves and can be used to identify misinterpretations. Technology makes it easy to offer these resources and to collect data on when and if students use the resources. I have authored several publications related to studies using these resources. In general, use of the resources is related to improved performance on lecture-related test items.

If students are skilled in the use of participatory web tools and motivated by opportunities to collaborate, it made sense to me that a wiki (actually multiple wikis available to 20-30 students) might offer a cost-effective and generative alternative to “expert notes”. Students could contribute what they know and collectively fill the gaps and correct the misrepresentations of their peers.

Here is the outline of my recent study. I loaded lecture outlines into multiple wikis before the lectures were given and had an expert note taker create a complete set of notes on one wiki (the group receiving complete notes was rotated so all students were given the same level of expert help). Data indicating both viewing of and contributing to the wikis was recorded. Student use was then related to examination scores. First, stident contribution to the wikis was very limited. Second, student use was not related to examination performance and on one of three exams those who used the wiki more frequently scored lower on the lecture exam questions. We had willing students complete a questionnaire attempting to understand these outcomes and discovered little. Those who had less comfort with technology used the wiki less, but few suggested this was a problem.

I am unable to explain these data. In past experiments I have consistently been able to find significant positive correlations between use of the prepared lecture outlines, complete notes and exam scores. These results cannot differentiate differences in student motivation and the unique benefits of using quality notes as alternative explanations, but the correlations have been consistently positive.

I write about these results here because “the system” makes in useless to submit these results to an academic journal. My message is that the data are important and advocates need to base comments more on such data and on a careful analysis of student activity rather than a personal logic or descriptions of a few cases. I do not think we are yet to the point we fully understand student use of participatory technologies or what should work in given situations.