August 31, 2005
Blogging Class...During Class?
Lydia Loren reminds her Cyberlaw students during the first class to sign up for an account on her blog. What happens? Students sign up right then and there--during class! (She knows because the account sign-ups are time-stamped). She wonders about the future: "Will my students be blogging my class during class?"
I think we all know the answer. Students engage in the full range of human activities during class--they sleep, they eat, they talk to others (especially over IM, although back in my day we used to pass notes), they play (especially computer games, although I was a crossword puzzle kind of guy myself), they flirt (not aware of that going further in class, although with cybersex, who knows?), they take care of administrative errands (in Lydia's case, signing up for accounts) and, yes, they probably even blog on all of the foregoing during class.
Frankly, of all of the foregoing activities, I think blogging about the class during class would be most consistent with my pedagogical goals. I'm happy any time a student does something a little extra with class-related material. But, no question, I'd also prefer if students could defer the blogging until after class. Personally, I've tried blogging on conferences real-time and I simply can't do it--I can't split my brain that way. Maybe my students are more skilled than I am, but if not, classroom-learning and blogging may be a zero sum game where one task wins at the other's expense.
Lydia's post is also a reminder that our activities in cyberspace leave data trails that others can notice and observe. In particular, this may be a reminder to students that we as professors are developing new ways to monitor your behavior. Personally, I'd love a to have digital avatar that could automatically detect a student engaging in an IM chat and insert a picture of my smiling face in the conversation saying "Hi! You might want to chat later. You've got some classroom learning to do first!" (Some of you may recall that the RIAA did something similar with P2P file sharers).
I saw people
- watching DVDs (with an earplug in!)
- playing Snood (requires enough of your visual cortex that your listening center is likely to be entirely off)
- updating resumes
- updating their student comments
- checking up on Friendster.com
- downloading Stuff
- writing op-ed pieces
- and yes, flirting.
There's a way to deal with the internet use. Many ways.
You can make it a practice to walk around the room, or put a professor in the back of the room sometimes.
You can disable wireless internet for the room, if feasible.
You can log onto IM yourself, add your students to your buddy list, and check it once or twice during class. If people are online, send them a message. "psst: you're in class. unless you need to share notes with the person on call, or are awaiting an urgent message, please log off." This works even better if you're projecting your screen on the wall of the lecture hall.
As far as those who can:
I'm smarter and thinking in more depth when I type the prawf's words as they're said. I can use formatting, links, fonts etc. to livenote, showing a student's q and the prawf's a.
If I'd had my blawg when i was in law school, i might have
- blogged fascinating conversations
- blogged hilarious prawf comments or silly student responses
- blogged about what we were doing in class, even if I had to write up the post before or after class, rather than during.
- revealed embarassing or even potentially career-damaging facts about prawfs. Good thing I didn't have this blawg, and am in no position to harm anyone but myself.
Good luck with this interesting issue - glad you're not an absolutist.
Posted by: Eh Nonymous at September 2, 2005 06:41 AM
Thanks for the insightful comment. Honestly, I believe each student should decide for themselves how to make the best use of classtime--and it's my job to make classtime essential for the students. However, I do have concerns that some student activities may detract from the learning of other students, and this to me would be unacceptable. Eric.
Posted by: Eric Goldman at September 5, 2005 11:03 PM
Some might see my posts as inconsistent, but I see them as a revealing statement about what I think of faculty meetings.
Posted by: Gordon Smith at October 13, 2005 08:49 PM