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Comment: Re:Yes, you are right (Score 1) 804

by Rasvar (#34712266) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

I think the physical sciences might be a little different. I am in social sciences and have done the same kind of statistical study I have found that the pre-published slides depends more on the individual student. Yes, some students use them as a crutch and don't study as hard. I also tracked when the students download the lecture slides. The students that download them the night before class or earlier had the best scores. The students who downloaded right before class or later usually had lesser scores. The students who never downloaded the slides usually had the lowest scores. Of course, there are always outliers but I think this pattern shows that it is how the student chooses to use the slides. I tell my students this information on the first day of class and I include it as a note in the syllabus. I will also say that it seems statistically significant that a grandparent is more likely to die around the time of an exam than at any other time of the year.

Students do have to take responsibility for doing their work. My best students are the ones who like to have the information early. I like to give them what the want. I tell all my students to not wait until the last minute if they want to do well in my classes. I answers their emails quickly and am even available to chat online outside of office hours at times. One of the keys to using technology is to use it correctly. PowerPoint has one of the biggest upsides when used right and one of the biggest downsides when used wrong. I will admit that I have seen far more bad PowerPoint presentations than good ones. Every instructor should have a class on making good PowerPoint lectures. It is really just a supplement to class learning. If a student tries to go on only those, they will not do well.

Comment: Re:Use Tablets instead (Score 1) 804

by Rasvar (#34711786) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

Microsoft OneNote on my XP tablet was the best thing ever. I could write my notes, record the lecture and have it indexed to the notes at the same time. If I was not fast enough in my writing I would put [check audio] down and then come back later and finish the note while keeping up with the instructor.

Comment: Re:For the most part yeah. (Score 1) 804

by Rasvar (#34711684) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

I would do that, but my handwriting is so horrible on the white boards that I lose too much class time. I usually just do major points on the PowerPoint and then back it up with extra lecture information. I usually post the class PowerPoint online the night before so students can print them off and then write notes on them or make notes on the PowerPoint on a computer of the additional information. Sometimes, I will put extra info on the white boards when I want to make a point. However, I also put numerous small breakpoints in to give everyone a chance to catch up and ask questions. I have found that most students in my classes do better if they have a copy of the PowerPoint ahead of time to make notes on. Many will even look through it before class and will have questions ready to go. PowerPoint is not evil if it used as a proper suppliment. In my case, they tend to be lecture outlines with pictures and urls to outside sources. Plus, I also keep a minimum of five minutes per slide in most cases (picture only slides and intro slides are not included).

Comment: Re:Yes, you are right (Score 2) 804

by Rasvar (#34711430) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

A doctor and a student are not the same thing. If a student misses a call, in most cases, there is no immediate danger to someones life. Truthfully, just because something is done one way in the "real world" it does not mean it is correct. The phone is one of the rudest devices ever created. It allows anyone to barge into someones conversation without thought of if the interruption is important or not. I actually do not answer my phone when I am having a conversation with someone unless I was expecting the call, in which cases I excuse myself before I answer.

Now, having been at many business conferences, there is usually nothing important happening at 90% of them, so an interruption is not that big of a deal. Yes, most people are involved with their own businesses at conferences. However, in a classroom environment, maybe 0.1% of the students I have ever had owned their own business while they were in my class. You are really talking about students who live their life attached to the phone either through text messages or just talking. Sometimes in a night class, a student has a business need for the phone to be on. I will work with them. However, in this case, the university has it right over the real world. 99.9% of the calls that university students get are not important. Plus, there are ways of handling a vibration phone in a classroom environment to make it more noticeable and most of the students are much more sensitive to their phones than some of us older folks.

Comment: Re:I agree - for large lectures (Score 1) 804

by Rasvar (#34711184) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

I have to agree with this. Class size is a major determinant in how a class is going to work. Sometimes the instructors job is more of a captain/navigator. The job is to lead the discussion in the proper direction and get it back on track when it starts to go off on tangents that are not the current lesson. The lower-level classes do not offer the ability to do this most of the time. Your policy is the best fit.

Comment: Re:Yes, you are right (Score 2) 804

by Rasvar (#34711092) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

My class rules are simple. Phones off unless you let me know you are expecting an important call. In that case, let me know, set the phone on vibrate and you sit in the seat adjacent to the door so you can slip out the door. During quizzes and exams, phones must be turned off and stored in a bag underneath the seat. If expecting a call, phone is up at my podium during hat time.

The simple fact is that phones are disruptive in class. The rules are set forth at the beginning of the semester in the syllabus and discussed in detail. The student has the option to drop me class and take another one if they wish. Now this is for the bigger classes. In smaller classes, I am less strict on the phones. But when you have a class with 45 students, a phone ringing every class session is disruptive.

As far as the argument of emergency alerts that are done by the campus, the classroom building has a full audio emergency alert system in every classroom. So none of those will be missed.

Comment: Re:College is a choice... (Score 1) 804

by Rasvar (#34710894) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

You make a blanket assumption that everyone learns well without lectures. You are wrong. Some students need audio and visual interaction to learn. Online learning is not a panacea. It works well for those students who are very self motivated. Some students need more interaction. Plus, what is filler for you is something very important for another student. Someone may be taking World Geography class as a filler class while others in the same class are in it because they want to be in it.

I have taught college classes. I find that the students tend to self segregate themselves within the classroom if someone is doing something distracting. There is no need for a blanket ban on laptops in the class. Just set simple ground rules and enforce them. In my basic classes, I offer flexibility to students. Notes are uploaded online and assignments are turned in online. In class quizzes and exams are announced at the start of the semester. Some people don't need the lectures. I keep track of attendance for statistical reasons. There are students who attend every lecture but barely pass and there are students who attend very few and do very well. However, those tend to be the outliers.

In the many classes I have taken, the best was an all lecture class that had a massive take home open book exam. I probably got more out of that class than any other. The worst was an online class where the instructor had everything up at the start of the semester and had a proctored exam. It was content poor and seemed to be just a class to get people credit. It required little to no effort to pass. It is not the format that matters as much as it is the competence of the instructor to deliver the information.

Comment: Re:You all laugh... (Score 1) 454

by Rasvar (#34296260) Attached to: Estonian Economist Suggests Abandoning Cash

I exchange for cash on foreign trips before I leave on the low level items: Cabs, tips(if culturally needed) and other small purchases. With the credit card I use, I have found it to be quite competitive on exchange rates and a lot more practical when traveling in places where having a lot of cash is not always safe. My rule is that if it is less than $50, I will pay cash at home and abroad. I never like to carry more than $100US. Credit cards are fine to use in the proper circumstance. I don't ever use a debit card, though. I have a card that is strictly an ATM card. I was burned by double charge on a debt card that was just too much of a hassle to fix and made it not worth it to me anymore. Regular credit cards offer a higher level of protection.

Comment: Re:Asians (Score 1) 299

by Rasvar (#34079382) Attached to: South Korean Cartoonists Cry Foul Over Edgy Simpsons Intro

This is more of the South Koreans misunderstanding American culture than the other way around. You have a satire aimed at showing Americans, the target audience, how 20th Century Fox, as a proxy for just about any large multinational corporation, exploits labor in a foreign land for profit. Satire tends to go for hyperbole to make a point. The American people do not think anything about how the process to create the items they consume actually occurs. Most people are smart enough to understand that is not really how it works. It is also not like they could depict another animation property to satire. The guilt is not meant to be placed on the people of Asia as much as it meant to be put on the American audience itself.

Comment: Re:Missing The Point (Score 1) 380

by Rasvar (#33954400) Attached to: What If We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

This system worked best for me. I did about five years of community college for the first two years of college going to class at night while working and saving money during the day. Now I had been in my tech job for 15 years at the time I decided to go back to school. My skills were getting stale and I saw that the work I was doing was going to be going away. My job was slated to be eliminated so I had year warning and got a one year buy out. Finished my AA two months after the job ended, sold my house and moved to go to a state university that took all the credits. I finished my BS in a year and a half and am now three years into postgrad (with stipend). I will have about $40K in student loans when I am done but should be able to transition to a new job pretty easily late next year. The guys I know who took the online college route currently have about $40K in loans, a degree but no hope for a job. I was lucky.

Comment: Re:prove it (Score 1) 371

by Rasvar (#33461536) Attached to: Harvard Ditching Final Exams?

No wonder my evaluations for my students were so low for the Freshman level World Geography class I taught this summer. I actually gave out 25% of the grades below a B-. I thought I was actually too easy. Of course, 80% of the students expected an A.

In graduate school, I have yet to have a final exam except in one class that was a split with an undergrad class. For most Geography classes, I would rather assign a project/paper to have done. Unfortunately, my university requires finals for all undergrad classes. However, the hardest final I ever had was a take home final in a summer class where the finals requirement is not as strict.

Then again, Geography is also beneath Harvard and Yale to even have a class in. Maybe that explains way George W Bush thought invading Iraq to be a good idea.

Comment: Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (Score 1) 891

by Rasvar (#28544355) Attached to: GPS-Based System For Driving Tax Being Field Tested

The problem with relying on the odometer for tax purposes is that there are a number of clever ways to prevent it from racking up miles.

A problem that of course doesn't exist with GPS.

What do you mean a problem that doesn't exist? GPS doesn't work in tunnels. It is not always effective nor accurate in cities. I could "foil" the GPS receiver in many ways. The system is going to have to require a hardwire to the odometer or an odometer like system as a double check. It is going to require a way to update maps in order to be able to identify the driving done on private roads if it is going to be per mile. Plus, it will have to know when you crossed the border into Canada or Mexico. A data receiving network to obtain the data is going to be a nightmare. The number of nodes needed for this system will be insanely expensive to cover rural areas. Data privacy will be a major concern.

I don't break the law; but this one may turn me into a criminal if it comes to pass. The receiver will never get a sat lock if it is in my car and I will sit in jail fighting this one until I die. Give me a non-tracking option.

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