Susan Flynn Talks About PBL and Twitter in Her Class

This week’s FTI guest blogger is Susan Flynn from Teacher Education in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance.

I have been teaching in post-secondary education for over 17 years. I continue to seek out opportunities to learn, improve, and adapt my teaching strategies and delivery of content to engage the ever-changing college student and to incorporate new ways to enhance the learning process.

Such an opportunity was presented in the 2012 Faculty Technology Institute.  The FTI provided creative ideas and tools to enhance technology integration in the classroom. To fulfill the FTI training goal to infuse technology into courses, the use of AirSketch,, iMovie, Prezi, GoodNotes, Twitter and Problem Based Learning (PBL) were used in my courses this past year.    Seeking new strategies to understand the attitudes, motivations, and approaches to learning by the new, young technology savvy generation has been an interesting challenge. By infusing more technology and using PBL for some assignments, students have been able to connect learning to real life situations and generate excellent discussions. Highlighted below are two strategies I learned at the FTI and implemented in my classes this year.

Thanks to the guidance from Teaching, Learning & Technology (TLT), I was able to develop a scope and sequence to implement the PBL approach in my First Year Experience class providing an interesting strategy for delivering course content.  Colleagues from HHP also implemented PBL and we surveyed the students before and after their experience to examine their perceptions and knowledge gained through the use of problem-based learning.

To implement the PBL approach, my freshman were given a global research question related to the courses main topic.  Throughout the semester students were asked to be prepared with information they gathered on their topics for each lecture and be able to discuss in class and during their group sessions.  Each group of four students was assigned a specific role/position to guide them in their research.  Lecture material was presented to accent and guide the students’ searches to answer the proposed question.  Students were given tasks to complete each week in their group sessions and as an instructor, I provided guidance on expectations of tasks to be accomplished.

graph of pblOne highlight for the students PBL experience was when professionals were invited to class and “role-played” specific positions and the students interviewed them.   The students were able to use the anecdotal information for their culminating research paper and presentation. screenshotMy freshman class was receptive to the PBL approach as evident by a survey I administered. One of the strengths PBL offered was the structure requiring students to use critical thinking, prepare materials for each class and collaborate with classmates.  I was pleased with the results of my first PBL experience and will seek out more ways to use PBL in my classes.

Another highlight of the FTI training was finding ways to use Twitter.   Thanks to the FTI, I now have a twitter channel and engage in the world of “tweeting.” I began integrating Twitter inside and outside the classroom as it relates to concepts about the course material.  I’ve created a class Twitter account and the students tweet when they see something that relates to the course content outside the classroom. It could be an article, a link to a unique website, or a YouTube video.  Each week, at the beginning of class, I bring up the Twitter feed and we look at the interesting information posted. The students who tweeted the information, then share what they learned during class.  Students earn points for tweeting content-related information.   I also tweet new information each week that will provide students with new “quick bits” of information to accent course content.   Implementing PBL and Twitter has added new flavor to my classes.  I appreciate the FTI training for educating and providing new tools to enhance my teaching and providing an opportunity to share with other educators on campus.

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