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Monday, January 2, 2012

Conversations with College Professors (aka Family Members and Friends)

Christmas break is a time for gathering with family and friends. And sometimes that is the only time that you see some family members. Inevitably, you share about what is happening at school.

My cousin, and his partner, Shawn, are professors at two different Universities/Colleges in Florida. I also have a very good friend, Kevin, who is an adjunct professor at a local college. I always find it fascinating to talk to them because (1) they are very smart, but (2) they have not studied education pedagogy. They are thrown into the fire and have to learn those lessons quickly. Now, their students are different than mine, but we have all experienced the same classroom management problems. Before Kevin started, he asked me what to do if he ran out of material before class was finished, how to engage students in discussion, and what to do if his students plagiarized. All of these things I learned in my first education class and throughout my student teaching practicum with guidance from experienced teachers.

As Shawn is a physics professor, I shared with him that the physics teacher at my high school is developing a project using an app to analyze the physics properties of the yellow Angry Bird. I am helping to set up the technology needs by loading the app and teaching the students how to take video capture; the physics teacher is will instruct. Shawn was very interested and then asked me if I had ever heard of a “backchannel” being used during class. I giggled to myself because during district professional development, I’m often a moderator of our backchannel. I shared how he could use TodaysMeet.com to set up a private room, and some of the benefits that I’ve experienced. He also asked me about my use of Twitter, and how beneficial it is. He seemed a bit overwhelmed at my love of Twitter for my PLN.

There are so many things that he can do in his college classroom with these tools. After our conversation, I thought about everything that I could share with him. I often think about Kevin and how with mentioning things that I think everyone knows about, but he hasn’t heard of them. When I read various articles and blog posts about technology in colleges, students are using all of these technology tools, but are the professors? It would be awesome if college professors could join into the K12 discussions about technology use on Twitter and other social media outlets. I think that we could learn a lot from each other.