Showcase Interview

John Kirk

John Kirk

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John Kirk has taught at UW-Stout since fall 2008. He is teaching Chemistry 115, a general education course, and a new course called Nano330.


Kirk says that Nano330 is more of a free form. It is smaller and he has more interaction with the students in this smaller class. Chemistry 115, however, offers particular challenges for John in that the students are not science students, so he, and they, have to find science in their lives through analogies or new technology the students can relate to.

To help his students, whether advanced science students or non-science majors, understand, he uses two new technologies. First, from his time at the University of Iowa, he brings a Tablet PC and wireless presenter; the teacher or the students can write on the PC and it appears on the screen at the front of the room. Because he can walk around to get responses from all over the classroom, students follow more closely. He can project from anywhere in the room.

Second, he uses “Ubiquitous Presenter,” from the University of San Diego; students log on to a server and follow a PowerPoint presentation. This program allows the students’ laptops to essentially act as large “clickers” with more functionality. Students can read the screen and select an answer. The immediacy of the feedback is a fine learning strategy. It also creates a sense of community in the class. In both cases, John finds that the technology is often central to the learning task. He intends to continue expanding the possibilities.