Sean Place

Short Throw Project Evaluation

Impact on teaching

I would have to say the greatest impact the short throw had on myteaching this past year would be the increased ability to bring in real-world applications of web-based data analysis pipelines and their direct connection to the concepts my students were learning in the laboratory setting. When conducting a lecture/ lab course, one typically wishes to include, as part of the lab experience, hands-on examples of the tools for data manipulation and analysis. Unfortunately, this often requires that the instructor set-aside critical lecture time to cover these application specific topics. I am frequently hesitant to devote class time to these endeavors as I feel the classroom hours are critical for building a conceptual understanding of the subject material as a whole. Incorporating the short throw technology into the lab portion of the course gave me the freedom to expand the lab material to include both the basic research approaches involved in bench work as well as the next steps involving data analysis and interpretation. Most importantly, it gave me the flexibility to spend 15-20 min each lab period talking immediately about the data the students just collected instead of waiting weeks to schedule an entire class period in a computer lab. Lastly, this technology gave me an opportunity to take some chances and try something new. Since I could be flexible in its use, I could test out new ways to generate student participation and interest over short time-scales. Thus, if the exercise did not work out as planned, I had only lost 15-20 min and not an entire class period.

Impact on my time commitment

The technology is as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. The most basic and useful functions are simple to develop and can be captured in the first 15-20 min after opening the box. I spent the most time trying to adapt the technology to make it more interactive as my students were just as interested in it as I was. So I spent some time trying to create a crossover between its functionality when connected directly to a computer and the wi-fi capabilities. On the flip side, its basic function actually saved me considerable time in the classroom. Since the students could take a picture of their results from the previous weeks experiment and share it with the class via wi-fi, I could get immediate examples of various subjective outcomes and provide those examples to the class. This meant I did not have to spend several hours before class anticipating the possible outcomes of the experiment and surfing the web for examples to show the students. It also meant I did not have to spend 10 minutes of class walking around a petri-dish to show and explain the observed patterns to each individual group. All in all, I found incorporating the short throw into my curriculum took very little time.

Recommendation

I would highly recommend this project be continued in the future. Until the university can work to 100% smart classrooms, including lab classes, this technology will prove invaluable to many new faculty. In addition, this technology will reduce the activation energy associated with developing innovative approaches to increasing student success.