Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Paper v iPad update #1

We've been at the paper game for the last two and a half weeks.  Some observations so far:

1) Video of the classroom shows that the students are fairly mentally present during the lessons.  They are generally attentive and on task. At least, as attentive and on task as a group of freshmen ever are.  There are side conversations, staring into space and poking at cuticles.  This is no more or less than it ever has been in the class.  Students return to task easily when called to do so.

2) There has not been one moment of resistance to our saying "put your devices away" at the start of class.  Many students are not even getting their iPads out, though their phones are a pretty constant presence. Students are not showing signs of withdrawal from their devices for the duration of the class. This may be due to our amazing ability to fully engage every student for every minute of each class, or it may (more likely) be due to the notion of addiction being overstated.  Or perhaps some combination of both...

3) Students did not perform noticeably better on the first quiz.  It was 5 terms/names to identify and give the significance of, and we allowed them to use their notes.  The first day of notes in the notebook was instructions for writing a good identification.  The average score on the quiz was an 11 out of 20, which is the same score we saw on a similar activity with devices.  Of the 21 students in the class, 8 left their notebooks at school rather than take them home.  Those students scored a quarter of a point lower than those who took the notebook home.

4) I am getting frustrated at the amount of paper being used that I have to collect and keep track of.  My table is flooded with past, current and future handouts and assignments.  So far, my shortest time at the photocopier is 15 minutes, and the longest time (due to a massive paper jam followed by toner shortfall) is 35 minutes out of my 45 minute prep time.  I am committed to doing my photocopying during the school day during my prep period, and I'm hating every minute I have to spend sucking in toner fumes.  It doesn't feel efficient at all.

We are giving the first test (which will not be open note, and will encompass three lessons that were device focused and the remainder of the unit in the notebook.) and will be checking through their notebooks to see their level of organization.  I alternate between feeling optimistic that they will do well, and pessimistic that this is a waste of time...