Using Computers for Teaching, 1967 to 2013

This is an image from the Life magazine article "The Computer as a Tutor." The original caption reads, "The sight of a small pupil ornamented like a pilot is rare, but may be common someday."

Teaching and learning with computers has been going on since at least the 1960s, and Stanford professors Pat Suppes and Dick Atkinson used computers in a California elementary school classroom to help students learn at their own pace. Their experiment, as outlined in a 1967 Life magazine article, shows that much of how we think about technology in education has stayed the same.

The W&M-China Initiative: Digital Learning in Cross-Cultural Pedagogy

Skyping between W&M and Beijing Normal University students.

In this guest post by Professor Emily Wilcox, she talks about some of the exciting courses that are part of the grant project W&M-China Initiative for Film and New Media. This project hopes to explore how digital tools can help center teaching and learning on cross-cultural exchanges.

Alternatives to the CMS-Based Student Project


This post is part three of my three-part series on the CMS and Web-based student projects. While in parts one and two I talked about how CMS projects came to be and reasons why we might want to re-think them, in this post I suggest some alternatives to these types of student projects.

Why Re-Think the CMS-Based Assignment?

Derelict typing machine

Since I have been at W&M, we have gone from the relative freedom of the Web left over from the 1990s to the more managed reality of the content management system. Content management systems (CMSs), like WordPress, provide easy ways to build websites and have your students present their work on the Web, but the CMS does have its drawbacks. In order for it to allow for the easy creation of polished-looking sites and let your students focus on writing, the CMS makes many of the other decisions about the website for them. Thinking through what a CMS-based student project often accomplishes may help you better refine your web-based student projects.

The Origins and Drawbacks of CMS-Based Student Projects

Nothing says 1990s Internet like Netscape!

As an undergrad at W&M in 2002, I completed my first website for an assignment in an American Studies class. Ten years later, the Web has changed, but I am not so sure if I can say the same for many classroom Web projects. Publishing content on the Web is far easier today than it used to be, thanks to a category of Web applications called Content Management Systems (CMS). A CMS allows people to publish content to the Web without much technical skill. This is great because it allows class projects to focus more on writing and Web publishing. However, I wonder if we have lost something in Web projects as CMSs like WordPress have become more prevalent. I think it is time to reevaluate what a semester-long Web project should look like.

Confessions of a Classroom Flipper


I never thought I’d see the day when I had to confess to becoming a classroom flipper. After generations of teaching courses that focus almost entirely on interaction among the students, I’m now trying to learn how to create screencasts of my “lectures” so that students can “cover the material” before they come to the class session. The course I’ll be teaching this spring is an undergraduate course in the Mason School of Business on “using computers to make business decisions.” I taught the class last spring as an experiment, and if there ever was a course that begged to be put online, this is the one.

Developing Alternative Research Assignments with Students and Faculty


The educational blogosphere has definitely been abuzz about e-learning in the last year. One part of the conversation has turned to leveraging technology to develop alternatives to the term paper. Assigning different kinds of writing assignments can hold students to the rigorous research standards of traditional long papers while also helping students gain skills in different writing and presentation styles as well as bringing new kinds of technology-based blended learning to the classroom. In this post, Arts Librarian Kathleen DeLaurenti shares some of her experiences helping to develop alternative assignments.

Digital Expectations: Taking Student Technology Skills into Account

1985, Could an 18-year-old do this?

There’s a commonly held belief that people under 30 have a natural tech-savviness. This isn’t actually the case when it comes to many instructional technologies, and assuming that it’s true can lead to problems when assigning a project that requires technology skills. To help give you an idea of what you might think about when assessing students’ technology skills and assigning a media-rich project, I have several suggestions for how to think through the planning, communication, and training/support when considering such a project.

Five Reasons to Use Evernote for Academic Research


Evernote is a note-taking and clipping application that lets you save all kinds of things to various project-oriented “notebooks.” Their motto is “Remember Everything,” and they certainly do help you with that. It has a desktop application, browser plugins, and mobile device apps galore that you can sync, so all of your clippings, notes and notebooks are the same from whatever device you access them from. In this post Kim gives an overview of Evernote, and then gives five reasons why she uses Evernote for her research.