After I wrote the last post, I found I keep thinking about some of the concerns I raised there.

The advantage of presenting analytic material in class (in my interactive lecture sort of way) is that I get a read on student comprehension as I present the material.  Additionally, after my part when I ask them to do problems either individually (first) or in groups (second) and then present their work, I can tell who gets it and who doesn’t.  I keep iterating through the process (explain/try more problems) until everyone (or nearly everyone) gets it.  In other words, the act of presentation, problem-solving and recitation face-to-face is simultaneously an act of formative assessment.

How can I do that online when I ask them to read, post their thinking, and work in groups to refine that thinking?  For one thing, I can’t see their faces or body language.  So far, most students aren’t posting very much information on the discussion board and some aren’t participating at all.  Admittedly, it’s early days since the students have only had two opportunities with the discussion board, and most are clearly still trying to figure out what is expected.  Which reminds me that I haven’t given any direct feedback about that.  Okay, that’s easy to fix.  [I wish there was a way when I broadcast a video to know if students were even watching it.]

Even at its best, I suspect the discussion board doesn’t lend itself well to providing nearly as much information about student thinking as watching and listening to students talk in groups.  I suppose I could skype with individuals who identified themselves as having problems, but that isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to go, since it makes no sense to do the same thing multiple times with different students, and there’s a limit to the number of folks you can include in a conference video chat on skype.

Next topic.  I added four YouTube videos describing how to use demand and supply analysis to the Topic 2 resources page.  I found it more challenging to select those videos than I expected, given that there may be hundreds of videos on the topic.  The experience, though, helped me answer a question I raised in my last post:  Why go thru the trouble of creating your own video?  [Answer below.]   The process of choosing the right video for my students reminds me of selecting the right textbook.  No matter how good the book, it doesn’t present the material in quite the same way that you do.  It may use slightly different terminology or present things in different order.  While there’s something to be said about making students figure out the translation between the author and you, if the difference is too great, some students, perhaps many, will be confused.  The exception, of course, is if, you wrote the book.  So after reviewing perhaps a dozen of the hundreds of videos out there, I choose four that seem closest to my presentation.  Now they won’t have my lectures to compare against, but they will have the textbook with offers similar challenges in comparison.  I will ask the students what they thought of the videos, and think about how they do on the relevant questions on the upcoming midterm exam.  If they don’t do as well as they should, I guess I’ll have to make my own videos next time.


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