Educational uses for Rev
gregory.lypny at videotron.ca
Thu Aug 12 09:39:44 EDT 2004
Hope I'm not taking this too far off topic. Shout me down if I am.
I agree with Richard. I would go considerably further and say that
web-based interactive learning materials have not lived up to their
hype. My rule of thumb is to use the Internet to (1) make getting and
sharing information convenient for students and (2) deploy learning
vehicles only if they involve interactions among them.
After fifteen years of tinkering with this at the University of
Toronto, McGill, and Concordia, this is what I've found (based on
responses from thousands of students) for (1) and (2):
(1) Biggest bang for the buck comes from having an web site or FTP site
where they have access to well-written and well-designed PDF notes,
exercises, and timely feedback on their progress, which they can
actually print on old fashioned paper, take to the coffee shop, discuss
with classmates, and especially grapple with. They use the Internet to
go in, get the stuff, and get out as quickly as possible. No muss, no
fuss, no being tied to a throbbing screen that may precipitate an
(2) Another big bang comes from an online experimental stock market I
run called Borsa. Here interaction is the essence of it as students
are trading with one another. Their actions yield feedback, data is
collected, and this can be downloaded and explored at the end of each
market session. I would like to port it from FileMaker to Rev, but I
haven't found enough time yet to play with Rev as a CGI, to learn how
to create tokens, etc. Other examples include things like the
Ultimatum game, auctions, surveys, and anything where the decision,
choice, or action of one is viewed and reacted to by others, and where
the resulting data can be shared and explored.
My rule: if it can be done as a solitary activity as simulations,
interactive tutorials, presentations, data analysis (including tapping
into the Internet to gather data via web services or some other way),
then make standalone courseware that can be used on the desktop; if it
involves interactions among people, then use the Internet (you pretty
much have to!).
All this, in my mind, bodes well for Rev as a courseware design tool.
Unfortunately, most of what I see from academics who mess around with
technology in teaching, amounts to simplistic web-based animations. To
get an idea of the prevalence of this, simply "google" any topic topic,
for example, "normal distribution", and you will find many
professor-run sites that offer simulations of bell curves: click a
button, generate random numbers, graph them. Similar examples can be
found for junior and secondary education. The question is not whether
there is educational merit in simulating the distributions (although I
would submit that it is marginal unless the student is required to
participate a good deal more than just clicking a button repeatedly),
it is whether it could be done better on the desktop in the form of
standalone courseware. I contend that the answer is almost always yes.
Associate Professor of Finance
John Molson School of Business
On Aug 11, 2004, at 8:50 PM, Richard Gaskin wrote:
> The Web can be fine for relatively simple presentations, but is limited
> for more sophisticated interactions.
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