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Maximizing Flex Classroom Use

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Most PWR classrooms are held in rooms equipped with several computer stations for student and instructor use. At first, it may feel a bit overwhelming to walk into a classroom with six mounted wall stations for students to use and a large set of flat screens at the front! Yet there are a number of ways that instructors can take advantage of this technology. This page includes some tips for activities you could conduct using the room's collaboration stations (i.e. the six screens around the room).

Collaboration Station Sample Activities

Activity #1: Artifact Reading/Listening/Viewing and Commenting

In this activity, instructors set up collaboration stations with different readings and/or videos relevant to the course theme. At these stations, students work together to read/listen/view the text. Then, they will be directed to answer specific questions about the text, crafting their response together. John Peterson's "Searching for BEAM" activity could easily be facilitated in this way.

Activity #2: Artifact Annotating

In this activity, instructors set up collaboration stations with different readings that they would like students to annotate. On each of the stations, students load up the article they are to read and are directed to annotate certain key parts of the article using digital annotation programs. Then, the group discusses the annotations and how they worked together. Carolyn Ross's "Rhetorical Architecture" activity could easily be facilitated in this way.

Activity #3: Genre Exploring

In this activity, instructors assign each collaboration station group with a genre that they should find an example of on the Web. Each group then goes “hunting” to find some “real” examples of genres they might create: blog posts, public service announcements, open letters, academic research papers, editorials, etc. Each group can then share what kinds of examples they eventually found to help them understand genre conventions more clearly. Phyllis Kayten's "Comparing Search Engines and Outcomes" activity could easily be facilitated in this way.

Activity #4: Diagram and Map Creating

In this activity, instructors encourage students to work together to create a diagram or a map of a concept that students may be struggling to understand. This activity could be done in a couple of different ways: instructors could have all of their students map the same concept or they could have them all map different concepts. Instructors would have students cue up on their stations different mind mapping or diagramming tools, and they could work together to create their map/visual. Sarah Peterson Pittock's "Mapping the Conversation" activity could easily be adapted in this way.

Activity #5: Collaborative Composing

Want students to write something together? In this activity, students get around the collaboration stations to create a single document of some kind. The idea is to get them all to work on one collective document that could assist in their understanding of a course concept or reading. In the case of the activity we’ll try today, the group will work collaboratively on a table in a Google Doc. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy's "Types of Argument" activity could easily be adapted in this way.

Activity #6: Digital “Poster Session” 

When students have a presentation completed or a visual graphic finished, it can be fun to use the computer stations as “digital posters;” you could assign class time where some students are “presenters” while others are participants, and then switching the roles halfway through the activity. There are no published examples of how this works on teaching writing, but instructors who have taught the Notation in Science Communication ePortfolio classes have conducted digital poster sessions during their class sessions (Russ Carpenter, Jenne Stonaker, Kim Savelson).