Theory of Distributed Systems

Choose Your Own Adventure!

Christoph Lenzen
Instructor

Johannes Bund
Assistant

Today's Guest: Will Rosenbaum

Course Structure

Previously, tradtional lecture format

Course materials from last year all online!

  • Course Notes
  • Lecture Videos
  • Homework Assignments
  • ...so see you in, like, 4 months for the final exam...

How Should We Run TODS This Year?

In particular: What should we do with lecture time?

Nothing we decide today is binding, just seeking feedback

The Options

  1. Traditional Lecture
  2. "Flipped" Classroom (described below)
  3. Something in between

In 2 and 3, we will devote more "lecture" time to interactive activities

No Matter What

  • 2 meetings a week:
    • "lecture" with Christoph
    • TA session with Johannes
  • Grading Scheme:
    • 25% classroom participation
    • 25% weekly homework assignments
    • 50% final exam (oral)

Active Learning: An Overview

  1. Why not a traditional lecture?
  2. What would a non-lecture look like?
  3. Why would you decide against active learning?

1. Why not a traditional lecture?

1. Why not a traditional lecture?

Because, Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics*

  • meta-study of 225 studies comparing active learning classrooms to traditional lectures
  • active learning improved performance (on exams) by 0.47 standard deviations on average
  • this means about 6% higher test scores
  • in traditional lectures, 50% higher failure rate

* - Freeman et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014

2. What would a non-lecture look like?

What would a non-lecture look like?

  • Before coming to class:
    • read course materials and/or watch lecture video
    • attempt to solve problems
  • In class:
    • discuss solutions
    • present and critique solutions
    • ask questions, make conjectures, etc
    • activities/worksheets alone or in small groups
    • instructor facilitates (rather than leads) discussion

Related Reading: What Is Inquiry-Based Learning (pdf)

3. Why would you decide against active learning?

Why not active learning?

You probably won't like it (source)

active learning bad

Why won't you like it?

  • disjointed and lacking flow
  • frequent interruptions to work
  • concern errors you make won't be corrected
  • general feeling of frustration and confusion

Why not active learning?

You probably won't like it (source)...at first

active learning good

The Moral?

learning probably doesn't feel the way you think it should

[W]hen students experienced confusion and increased cognitive effort with active learning, they perceived this disfluency as a signal of poor learning, while in fact the opposite is true.

- Deslauriers 2019

Why not active learning?

Other things to consider:

  • We have less experience with non-traditional lectures
    • things might get messy
    • possibly more work (for students and instructors)
  • May disagree with studies conclusions (statistical vs individual; studies are American)
  • Would prefer not to work with others in class

Discuss!

Vote!

The Options

  1. Traditional Lecture
  2. "Flipped" Classroom
  3. Something in between

Again: no decision here needs to be final!