Crucial Thought Rss

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Chris selected as K12OnlineConference keynote speaker Each year the K12OnlineConference provides tremendous professional development for free, and entirely online. This year, they have selected me as one of their keynote speakers. I am thrilled to have been chosen and look forward to participating in the conversation. Read the full post announcing all the keynote speakers here.

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Two quick links on Cognitive Load Theory I've been fielding lots of questions lately about Cognitive Load Theory. Here are two quick links that may be useful. First is an article talking about the practical implications of CLT on the design of learning. The second are some "recent" (as of 2003) developments regarding CLT. Happy reading! Update: I clarified the second...

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Practical advice on kids and Android app development After hearing about my students' success developing an Android app, I've gotten several emails asking for more details as to how I practically worked with my kids. Here are some pointers that I offered to the first person that emailed me, perhaps they are of some use to you. Please note that your mileage may vary. It's ok to not be...

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Publishing an App Inventor app to the Android Market As I mentioned earlier, my students and I published an Android app to the Android Market. See those links for more information on the background. This post is decidedly technical. First, once we finished the coding process, we packaged the app for to download to the computer. This is an option in App Inventor. This downloaded an .apk file....

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Designing and publishing an Android app with kids This post is designed to provide some context around how/why we decided to build this app. The more technical details of the code and how we published it will come in a future post. My students and I recently completed and published an Android app, and here's how we did it. First, the genesis for this goes back to a question I asked...

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Teaching undergrads in the 21st century

Category : Academics

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to design a course for undergraduate students. I’ve never taught at the higher education level before, but I’ve been teaching 6th graders for a few years now, how different can it be?

I mean that partly tongue-in-cheek and partly not. Here’s how my course design is shaping up. I’d welcome your thoughts and input.

1. My University offers Blackboard access, which I’ll surely use for a couple of quizzes and the like, but mostly our home will be on a WordPress Multi-User installation on my server, so it’s outside of official university servers. I’m going to use it as a replacement for the locked-down Blackboard discussion forum. Often profs will have students post and respond. I’d rather open it up for outside comments, too.

2. My slides are coming together nicely, with little text and a lot in the notes field. My daily plan looks a bit like this…

Greet them at the door.

Begin with attendance done by CPS IR Remotes (that I bring from my middle school)

Move into the lecture, taking into account both my own thought on avoiding cognitive overload and dan’s next gen lecturer techniques. Lecture is good, and in fact useful when used appropriately with novices. Lecture will be full of good content and good conversation.

After lecture we talk about homework, assignments, etc.

Then we move into our “educational” content arena. This is when we’ll view and discuss some of the more popular educational videos out there and discuss their value (I’m looking at you, Did You Know, Pay Attention, a Ninja video, and a few others).

This will lead to some blog posts from them, and surely some feedback from you. We’ll then use those comments and feedback as fodder for class discussion.

I think it will be a good class. It’s two days a week for a 1 hour and 45 minutes. I think the time will fly by.

I might even ask a few of you to Skype in and talk to them for a few minutes. Interested? I’ll be in touch with you.

So what do you think?


Comments (12)

WOW this is so cool. Are you really officially teaching an undergrad course? The layout and plans sound good. Will u encourage backchanneling for some topics–and invite your blogger friends in for that–occasionally any way?

@cathyjo I will not encourage my students to backchannel. That’s just too distracting. This is heavy lifting content with a lot of new theorists for them to learn. Too much to expect them to interact online as well.

Yes, it’s official. I’m teaching it as a part of my Ph.D. program. I wanted to see how different undergrads are from 6th graders. Maybe a lot, maybe not. I expect they’re similar, in fun ways.

Neat, I am looking forward to hearing more about this, the process, and what you will learn. Best of luck with the course, Chris.

@courosa Rest assured, I’m still planning to bug you for some counsel here!

Oh come on — one class — try a backchannel. Write it in as a theory you are testing out. Which One? I have no idea. Research some theorists that might encourage it, and give it a whirl. Oh btw, in all likelihood your undergrads will be bringing in their cell phones and participating in a whole different and equally distracting back channel of their own making–regardless of how captivating I’m sure you will be. Congrats on the collegiate level position–should I call you Adjunct Professor Craft? You amaze, me ya know?

@cathyjo From a cognitive load perspective backchanneling while learning a new topic would be considered extraneous load and can be seriously damaging to the learning process. The only reason you can handle it at your conferences is because you’re already mostly familiar with the material you’re hearing. Being familiar with it means you’ve already got schema constructed through which to analyze the material.

The same could be true for them and their phones. If I develop a good relationship with them on the front end, I will not have trouble with them in that sense. If I do, it’s really to their own detriment and becomes and issue of disrespect. That’s classroom management, really.

It’s not really a collegiate level position, just a Teaching Assistant (TA) position. I think I might teach another class in the Spring, which would be as an Adjunct Instructor, but I’ll only have a Master’s, so no professorship for me yet, if ever.


I’ll be teaching an undergrad class of pre-service teachers for the third time this fall. I’d be interested in possible collaboration with students. Mine is Wednesday evenings. Mostly online but we’ll meet F2F at least once a month. I’ll likely keep it quite similar to my course outline from last year and you can view here by using the guest login.

I am teaching graduate students on the university level after teaching high school for many years. I was truly surprised how much they are the same and how shocked I was that I had to give an incomplete and almost a zero to a teacher! Good luck. Sounds like a great plan.

My friend and I team taught a graduate class for our district teachers. We used a Moodle to deliver part of the instruction. I would be happy to share that with you if you are interested. We were able to leave the videos and websites available for the teachers to go back and look at later. Our teachers were expected to post a blog entry and respond to 2 others. It was a little slow to get started but our teachers finally got the hang of it and it took off.
I would like to point you to the You tube video down about Michael Wesch’s class. He has some interesting things to say about delivering instruction.
Good luck

@shareski Thanks for the offer. I’d like to seriously consider this. I suspect my students are probably from around here (despite the University having more than 18,000 students) and therefore probably a bit naive as to what the rest of the world is like, let alone our neighbors to the north. Let’s talk more about this…

@readerdiane I’m planning to show my students that video as a matter of fact, and have them reflect on how true it is or isn’t for each of them and how they anticipate helping their students overcome some of these challenges.

Didn’t you love how he used a wiki with his students. I thought that was so great.

Hi Mr. Craft!
After reading this post I can tell that you and my Intro to PR professor (the teacher for the class I created the blog for, and joined twitter) are of the same mind.
I’m sure your students will love your class. Have a good semester.
-Cara Mitchell