This post concerns using Post-Its and mobile devices in the classroom. Where blended learning is pursued, I would highly recommend supplying at least one Internet capable device during in-class research sessions for use by students. This can encourage the use of online repositories, but, more importantly, ensures equitable access.
This work by Katarina Gray-Sharp is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
I set-up two laptops in different corners of the room and connected them to the wi-fi. I navigated to the online learning environment, which contains copies of the readings. Some mattresses were pulled by the laptops and others set in a semi-circle around the whiteboards. When the 20-odd students arrived, they automatically sat on the mattresses in the semi-circle. Some pulled out laptops, some checked their cellphones. After a few minutes the session began.
Per the "ways of thinking and practising" of the discipline (Entwistle, 2005; Meyer & Land, 2003), a known meditation was recited to open the learning. Students were re-introduced to me as their teacher. The intent and general processes of the class were outlined.
The first teaching/learning activity (TLA) (Biggs, 2003) utilised Post-Its and a large wall. The wall was sectioned into three areas: A-G, H-P, and Q-Z. On a Post-It, each student wrote one concept that they did not understand from the two lectures. They placed their Post-Its on the wall in alphabetical order. Once placed, the student received another Post-It to write down another concept. All students placed at least two Post-Its with some placing more than five. While placing their Post-Its, they read and commented on their peers'.
The Post-Its were then collated by primary concept whilst maintaining alphabetical order. When picking up a Post-It, I would read it aloud and place it beside a similar one. I spoke throughout the collation process, reading the Post-Its and justifying allocation. After the first few, students began to call out possible categories for allocation. Post-Its which did not fit the activity were summarised and responded to immediately. In some cases, students were requested to make contact with me after the session for additional information. When the first TLA was completed, 13 primary concepts had been identified.
The second activity utilised the laptops, students' mobile devices, and a whiteboard. Students were asked to stand in alphabetical order by common name in front of the Post-It wall. Students were split in the middle into two groups of similar number. Each group was allocated their alphabetical end of the 13 concepts.
Students used laptops and mobile devices to define their group's concepts. One group split their concepts between their members, whilst the other tried to work as a whole unit. As I had only supplied two laptops, both of which were relatively slow, students tended to favour their smartphones and personal laptops for researching. I sat with each group for a time answering questions, and offering suggestions about where in the online learning environment they might find more information.
When the groups finished researching, they wrote their answers onto their allocated half of the whiteboard. I gave five-minute and one-minute warnings before asking them to return. Each group stood and reported on their findings. The audience and I corrected any misunderstandings through verbal feedback, and the reporting group adjusted their whiteboard accordingly.
The best part of this process is what happened after the class ended: about six students sat and copied the whiteboards. Having tested the information, and now being able to find supporting information themselves, the students were confident of what their peers had taught them. This is a process I would undertake again, and highly recommend.