16 February 2012

At least whiteboards are quieter...

It's a little bit shocking to me when lectures are delivered exclusively on a chalkboard. Just in general. In engineering and technology disciplines, I find it alarming. Think about the resources and media that are available. We have videos, animations and pictures all over the web. There are online university classes, where you could have “guest” lecturers from some of the world's most prestigious institutions. And why so many lectures anyway? I think labs and simulations are even better. I certainly prefer them, being a visual and kinesthetic learner.

I don't discount the value of writing things down. Working through problems by hand can be much more tangible. Writing down a derivation helps me remember and makes it easier to catch errors during lectures. Plus, I haven't learned to type equations fast enough to keep up in class. Now I'm considering tablet options instead.

I'm surprised that we still get assignments handed out by worksheets, turned in handwritten, no website with additional references or course information, and a general 'hardcopy-ness' to every aspect of a class. This certainly isn't true of all my classes, but I have a fascinated frustration when I see the resistance to learn and adapt to new tools.

I'm giving myself a project this semester of trying out a bunch of new scientific and math programs on my computer. I primarily use a Linux system, so I'm giving preference to open source (and free - I'm a grad student after all) programs. I thought using my homework assignments would give me specific problems to try out with these tools, rather than a vague task that I'll never start. I started to notice that resistance in myself before I left my old job, and now I need to train myself out of it.