Talking in Class

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A new post in Faculty Focus e-newsletter offers five reasons we should be encouraging classroom discussions among our students. Of course we are not talking about muffled whispers, passing notes, and trips to the principals office!  This is an appeal for active learning activities in the classroom.  Nevertheless, observing these activities from a teacher’s perspective can be discouraging as this excerpt from the above post supports:

“I just don’t see how students learn anything when they talk to each other,” a faculty member told me recently. “Their conversations are so superficial. They get things wrong. I can hardly stand to listen to them.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Maryellen Weimer, long-time editor of the Teaching Professor newsletter, encourages instructors to resist giving up on students’ awkward discussions.  Below are the five reasons as they are listed in the post.  Please see the online newsletter for a full discussion of each point.  These points are valid whether applied in a face-to-face classroom or an online discussion board.

  1. Students learn content when they talk about it.
  2. Talking lets students learn from each other.
  3. Talking gives students the opportunity to practice using the language of the discipline.
  4. Talking connects students with the content.
  5. Talking connects students with each other.

YouTube Downloads: 3 days of content every minute!

Hoping to get caught up online?  According to new figures referenced by YouTube, every minute that passes, you are another three days behind!   YouTube users now upload 72 hours of content per minute.  Of course the scholarly value of what is available on YouTube is questionable, (although 77 million Nyan cat viewers can’t be wrong!). Nevertheless, YouTube’s new milestone is simply an example of the burgeoning breadth of digital content available to our students.  In 2011 the world created a stunning total of 1.8 zettabytes (1.8 trillion gigabytes) of digital information [source].

It is more important now than ever before to help our students learn to better evaluate sources and think critically.  It is our job to prepare them to extract value from this chaos.