Reaching Beyond Pen and Paper

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Reaching Beyond Pen and Paper

Learning in school is always a given. When students are taught a subject they are eventually tested on the information learned. Most teachers use tests, handouts or papers as methods of evaluating how much a student has learned in their course. With the development of technology and the increasing amount of internet access that most classrooms have, teachers are now thinking outside the box and coming up with new ways to assess their students. Creating web pages and using online tools such as Blackboard are some of the ways teachers can have students present information they have learned. These methods are being used more often as technology grows. Though these alternative ways of assessments seem to benefit teachers, they benefit students as well. Allowing students to be more creative when completing assignments ensures their enjoyment and likelihood to do better.

In 1994 Duke University’s Department of Biochemical Engineering initiated its first use of infrared (IR) networking. The classroom became completely wireless without a physical alteration to the room. Each student had to purchase a PowerBook to be able to participate in the classroom discussions and projects. The professor also had a PowerBook with a program called Timbuktu installed on it, which allowed him to access any students computer screen and project the information seen onto a screen that the whole class could see. The program also allowed the teacher complete control of the students keyboard and trackball. Through use of the IR network, the class could work on group projects more easily because they would be working though one computer.

The system opened more opportunities for students to learn information effectively. For example, if a student had a problem or question about the information being learned in the class, they would simply raise their hand, the teacher would select the name from a menu bar, and instantly the whole class would see the student’s computer screen projected on the big screen. With the whole class being able to see the problem or question an individual had, they could all collaboratively help or learn from the problem. The teacher could address the question to the class and the students could help each other out.

The IR network system allowed the classroom to become completely paperless. Without the hassle of handouts, research papers, and paper tests, the professor could concentrate on the information being learned by his students.

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