29 Aug 2014

The first week BITeS

Submitted by Barbara Reisner, James Madison University
That’s a reference to this blog, not my first week of classes. It’s hard to believe week one is almost over. (I still have the dreaded Friday afternoon class.) At one week in, I’m excited about my classes - General Chemistry I and two sections of Literature & Seminar.  I'll miss teaching inorganic chemistry this fall, but after a two year hiatus from the general chemistry lecture rotation, I’m thrilled to be back in genchem.
Of course, that’s making my job of writing this BITEs post much harder since Chip (the BITEs taskmaster) has been encouraging me to write about using adapting and adopting LOs. I guess I could talk about what I did last semester, but I’m more excited about this semester. I could talk about adapting genchem activities on VIPEr, but that’s hard because I haven’t made it beyond unit conversions and dimensional analysis. 
Since I haven’t done much chemistry yet, I’ll talk about what I have done: I used Doceri for the first time in my general chemistry class of 130 in a room with stadium seating. Sheila Smith from UM Dearborn introduced us to Doceri a few years ago and I wasn’t really ready for it until last spring when I was teaching in the room that I swore I’d never teach in. (Yeah, so much for that.) Now I’m a convert. 
Doceri lets me use partially constructed power points as a framework for my lecture and write on them during class. This isn’t much different than something like Sympodium, but Doceri allows me to control of stationary PC at the front of the room from my mobile iPad. I have the freedom to walk around the room, talk to my students, and write on my power points (on my iPad) and control the PC from anywhere in the room.
One of the features I’ve really come to appreciate is the fact that I can record the lecture presentations and put them online for my students to watch after class. At this point in the semester, these presentations are a great for the students who joined the class late. (I no longer have to go over the syllabus with the students who missed the first few days.) Later in the semester, these will be great for students who want to review things we discussed in lecture.
I used Doceri for the first time last spring and my students were enthusiastic about being able to watch recordings. (They actually watched them!) Hopefully, the genchemmers will be as excited. What surprised me was that I got an email from our Office of Disability Services thanking me for making my class more accessible to students. I never thought about how these recordings would improve accessibility.
All the best to the IONiC community on your first week of classes - completed or upcoming.