Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I'm Asking You Not to Use Laptops

I am far from alone in asking students not to use laptops (or phones) in class. Some of my colleagues, though, seem surprised that I don’t get pushback from students about this policy. I like to think it has something to do with my taking the time to explain my laptop policy for the class and then working hard to keep up my end of the contract.

Let me explain. On the first day of class, students and I spend the first 30-40 minutes learning something new about how language works (in order to set the tone for the class), and then we go over the syllabus. When we get to the laptop policy, I pause and say, “Let me tell you why I ask you generally not to use laptops in class.” And here’s the gist of what I say after that:

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Clients, not Customers

Chronicle piece about the benefits of approaching students as clients, with all the attendant problems. Comments are no doubt more intriguing than the actual article.

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College textbook forecast: Radical change ahead

Article in University Business about the shifting terrain of textbook publishing, with a focus on the problems of cost and possible future business models.

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Teaching Roundtable Warren Rosenberg, Wabash College

Walking on Eggs: Handling Difficult Discussions

Warren will lead faculty in a conversation about how to negotiate difficult discussions and situations in the classroom.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Everyone Should Teach Writing

Most of my faculty colleagues agree that Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), in which the task of teaching writing is one assigned to all professors, not just those who teach English or composition, is an important academic concept. If we had a WAC playbook, it would sound something like this: students need to write clear, organized, persuasive prose, not only in the liberal arts, but in the sciences and professional disciplines as well. Conventional wisdom and practical experience tell us that students’ ability to secure jobs and advance in their careers depends, to a great extent, on their communication skills, including polished, professional writing.

Writing is thinking made manifest. If students cannot think clearly, they will not write well. So in this respect, writing is tangible evidence of critical thinking -- or the lack of it -- and is a helpful indicator of how students construct knowledge out of information.