The Launch: My whiteboard
Today Stephen Beck (who prefers - he has made it clear to me - that he prefers to be introduced as the man who once beat a Nobel Prize winner at Trivial Pursuit rather than the teachingcommons Board Chair) writes about an idea perhaps brought up at the Launch…a space close to his heart…? Well, certainly to his desk at least. His whiteboard.
Say hello to my teaching space, my whiteboard
On the wall in my office, sits my whiteboard. It cost about £68 and moved office when I did. It needs cleaning, and I occasionally write on it with pens that don’t wipe off. I think that is a vital teaching space, because it allows me to exchange views with other people, and it is easy to change things or start again.
I use for either tutorials with up to about five students, and project students.
In Mechanical Engineering, where I teach, staff are responsible for tutoring ALL first year subjects, and we are supplied with crib sheets of more or less use to guide us through subjects in which we are less that great experts (shall I say).
A student may say “I can’t get the right answer to this problem” and the others may agree. I have now been doing this long enough to know that what this means is “I don’t understand the concepts behind this problem”. I try to help them towards a solution to their problem almost by providing a tailored lecture on the subject, but as there is a small group and they can guide me by asking questions, I can ensure that no one gets left behind. So I use the whiteboard for sketches, equations and scribbles to illustrate my explanation.
With project students I use it to exchange ideas, write equations and interpret results. Its ephemeral status is part of its value. What’s on it could be wrong, or an important step on a long project. It is a way of bringing people, concepts and solutions together.
I like my whiteboard. It may only be a two dimensional space, but it has an infinite amount of value.
Stephen Beck, Mechanical Engineering/Engineering FDLT