Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Take one tablet...

It is two days before instruction begins again at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), and change is afoot. Last year, our brand new campus President, Dr. Joseph Castro, boldly decided to take deliberate steps to implement tablet computer-based instruction in a handful of courses.

I'm one of the small number of faculty who were nominated by Deans to join the inaugural cohort of faculty at Fresno State who are launching courses redesigned for tablet instruction two days from now. Tablet instruction has seen mixed results when various institutions have had their hand at introducing tablets to the classroom. A few of the many things that set Fresno State's approach apart from other efforts across the country is that emphasis has been placed on:

  • giving instructors advance training in both tablet usage and on effective pedagogical techniques that can be implemented using tablets
  • allowing the faculty to develop a tablet faculty community for sharing their expertise in tablet-based instruction, and
  • adopting an agnostic perspective on tablet brand/operating system.

This semester, I will blog about being on the front lines of our effort, called DISCOVERe, to take bold strides to improve student success using tablet computers in the university classroom. I'm particularly excited about tablet deployment in our classes for a number of reasons, including some that I'll elaborate upon in future posts:

  1. the opportunity to give authentic experiences to students (including exams incorporating situations we expect our graduates to encounter in the workplace)
  2. the ability for tablet access to facilitate student collaboration both in and outside of the classroom
  3. tablets let us employ modern incarnations of active learning strategies that engage students
  4. tablets can help improve course material accessibility
  5. untethering an instructor from his/her desktop or laptop computer in the classroom can improve student-instructor interaction (yes, remote controls can manage part of this, but tablets offer so much more)
  6. we can now collect anonymous (to other students) and instantaneous feedback on student comprehension during class
Along the way, I'll also dispel some myths and highlight my first-hand best practices in using tablet computers in class. But now, I need to get back to preparing for the first class meetings of my back-to-back "traditional" and "tablet" sections of genetics this Friday!

Dr. Joseph Ross

#fsdiscovere #rossgenetics #f14

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