I am teaching FOCS (Foundations of Computer Science) in Fall 2014 and I was stunned at how hard it is to find just the right teaching environment. Several novel teaching technologies abound, typically tending toward online approaches such as flipped classrooms. All this technology is geared toward making the process of learning fun and easy while the student is away from the class. I would like to propose a new ground-breaking technology with the in-class student in mind. (Are there any of those students floating around these days?) Some of the virtues of the proposed new technology are:
- Its convenient (you don’t have to bring any hardware to class). Takes up very little space and near-zero maintainance. Will work even in a power outage!
- You don’t need powerpoint or pdf slides. It’s a high contrast substrate (white on black).
- Material is revealed to the student at a pace they can assimilate.
- The content is located at the same spot that the lecturer is speaking so the students attention (audio and video) can be focused to the same spot. Contrast that with powerpoint, for example, where when the lecturer speaks the students must turn their attention away from the visual content (slide) to focus on the lecturer dynamics.
- Easily reference previous results or quantities in a derivation by keeping them on view as you progress through the derivation.
- Walk around the class as the content is revealed and be more engaging.
It’s a BIG blackboard.
Yet with so little downside to keeping this option alive in any classroom, its going the way of the dodo. Why? Is it so that curricula can claim modernism; innovation; high-tech?
Well, here is one emphatic vote for keeping the blackboard from extinction. It always works and flawlessly.