Now that the semester is done I always find it useful to jot a few notes down for my January 2014 self who will be stressing about getting this class together again just after the NSF deadline. I took a slightly different teaching approach this year, incorporating ideas like Think - Pair - Share and the use of clickers. In the end, I didn't find the clickers as useful as I thought I would. I'm not sure that I would ask the students to spend the money on them in the future. The TPS worked well, however, and I may expand it's use going forward.
One thing I experimented with was using Twitter in the class. I did so on a limited basis, but largely found it useful. I'm hoping to use it more next spring, even holding virtual office hours via twitter. There's a considerable number of blog posts out there on classroom twitter, but obviously not every approach is going to work in every class. My plan is the following, but I would be happy to hear other suggestions.
1) Have times where I am available to discuss class concepts via twitter. I'm not sure whether it's me or the general faculty/student interactions here, but if I have one student show up during office hours all semester, it's surprising. My hope is that I can encourage interaction and discussion over twitter, and that might even lead to more face-to-face time once the students feel realize I'm available to talk.
2) Make non-essential class announcements, like who is going to be presenting on a given day, reminders about certain labs that they need to be prepared for.
3) RT science links related to the class. A large part of my motivation for doing this is to get the students more broadly involved in the community of science. If I can get them to check out a few links, all the better.
4) Assign them to find at least 5 scientist or science writers to follow. Why do all the work myself?
5) Tweet example exam questions.
6) Ask questions that need to be answered in a single tweet, requiring succinct explanations. Maybe that'll cut down on the knowledge barfing on many exam questions, but it'll make them think about word use, for sure.
I'm sure additional ways to interact will come from this exercise, but this is a start. I'm hoping that it will not only encourage the students to interact more, but it'll break down some of the barriers that seem to exist from one side of the podium to the other.