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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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The following excerpt if from an interesting new book, JUST-IN-TIME

TEACHING: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology by Gregor M.

Novak, Indiana University-Purdue University, Evelyn T. Patterson,

United States Air Force Academy, Andrew D. Gavrin, Indiana

University-Purdue University, and Wolfgang Christian, Davidson

College. I have excerpt a portion of the preface and all of the first

chapter to give you an idea of the just-in-time concept and how it

might apply in various settings. (c) 1999 Prentice Hall, Upper

Saddle River, NJ 07458, reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis

UP NEXT: Cultivating Friendships - Key to Handling Stress

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning


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Blending Active Learning with Web Technology



Just-in-time Teaching (JiTT) is a pedagogical strategy that succeeds

through a fusion of high-tech and low-tech elements. On the high-tech

side, we use the World Wide Web to deliver multimedia curricular

materials and to manage electronic communications among faculty and

students. On the low-tech side, we maintain a classroom environment

that emphasizes personal teacher-student and student-student

interactions. We combine these disparate elements in several ways, and

the interplay produces an educational setting that students find

engaging and instructive. The underlying method is to use feedback

between the Web and the classroom to increase interactivity and allow

rapid response to students' problems.

We have based most of the discussion in this book on physics because it

is our primary subject. However, there is nothing in our underlying

method that is specific to physics. Interactivity and responsiveness

are applicable to any instructional setting, and student achievement and

motivation are important in any subject. While any course can benefit

from JiTT, it is easy to describe those courses that can benefit the

most: any course that students consider to be of secondary importance to

their lives or their education. Courses taken to satisfy requirements

and courses taken by part-time students meet these criteria. We use

physics examples because we are familiar and experienced with. We hope

that this does not put off instructors from other fields. We encourage

others to adapt our ideas to their own subjects.


Just-in-time-Teaching is a teaching and learning strategy comprised of

two elements: classroom activities that promote active learning and

World Wide Web resources that used to enhance the classroom component.

Many industries use JiTT methods; they combine high-speed communications

and rapid distribution systems to improve efficiency and flexibility.

Our use of JiTT is analogous in many ways. We combine high-speed

communications on the Web with our ability to rapidly adjust to our

students' needs. The essential element is feedback between the

Web-based and classroom activities.

WE have built the JiTT system around Web-used preparatory assignments

that are due a few hours before class. The students complete these

assignments individually, at their own pace, and submit them

electronically. In turn, we adjust and organize the classroom lessons

in response to the student submissions "Just-in-Time." Thus, a feedback

loop between the classroom and the Web is established. Each lecture is

preceded and informed by an assignment on the Web. This cycle occurs

several times each week, encouraging students to stay current and to do

so by studying in several sessions that are short enough to avoid



We strive for both physics content mastery and acquisition of more

general skills. We also design our courses to provide experiences in

teamwork and opportunities to practice written and oral communication.

Our goal is to help the whole spectrum of students advance and learn,

rather than targeting the average students or either extreme. The JiTT

strategy provides appropriate levels of support and feedback. JiTT

provides remediation and encouragement to the weaker students while

providing enrichment to the stronger students.

Students Enrolled in a Course that Successfully Implements JiTT Will:

* Gain both problem-solving skills and conceptual understanding

* Connect classroom physics to real-world phenomena and to their careers

* Be in control of their own learning processes

* Develop their critical thinking ability

* Develop their ability to frame and solve problems

* Develop their teamwork and communication skills

In addition to traditional homework assignments, students taking a

JiTT-based course work in two interactive instructional environments.

They work at their own pace in a virtual, Web-based setting that

continually evolves with the progress of the class. They also

collaborate with each other and instructors in a highly interactive

classroom. Electronic communication among students and faculty provides

a bridge between these two settings.

The JiTT Strategy Specifically Target Obstacles Facing Many of Today's


* Motivation to learn physics

* Study habits and academic backgrounds

* Confidence in their ability to succeed

* Time constraints

These goals and difficulties are addressed by combining high-tech

(Web-based) and low-tech (classroom) elements, which we will discuss

throughout this book. The feedback between these elements and between

the people involved is the most fundamental asset of the JiTT method.


We have been student-testing this strategy for five semesters and are

encouraged by the results, both attitudinal and cognitive. For details,

visit the JiTT Web-site:

In fact, working with the JiTT strategy has convinced us that the Web,

combined with live teachers in the classroom, can humanize instruction

for all students and make a real difference to the nontraditional


We have developed JiTT concurrently at three institutions: Indiana

University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), the United States

Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs and Davidson College. The

JiTT strategy is effective despite numerous differences among the three

institutions (we will elaborate in Chapter 2). This suggests that JiTT

is applicable in many other settings. The generality of the JiTT

approach is also shown by our experiences with national JiTT workshops

attended by faculty from a broad spectrum of institutions. For example,

Daniel Kim-Shapiro, an assistant professor of physics at Wake Forest

University, a private four-year liberal arts institution, has

successfully employed the JiTT strategy in his calculus-based

introductory physics course taken by approximately 50 students. most of

whom were pre-med majors. His students gave the use of the strategy an

overall rating of 8 out of 10 on an end-of-course survey. It is

interesting to note that in similar surveys at IUPUI, USAFA, and

Davidson, our students also gave the JiTT strategy a score of 8 out of



Despite our best efforts to explain what JiTT is, some readers may pick

up false impressions. With this in mind, we would like to list a few

things that JiTT is not:

* JiTT is Not a way to "process" more students

* JiTT is Not "Just-in-Time Training"

* JiTT is Not distance learning

* JiTT is Not computer-aided instruction

* JiTT is Not designed from student evaluations

* JiTT is Not market research

We pay attention to our students' comments and suggestions. We agree

with some but disagree with others. The JiTT strategy was not designed

with student evaluations as the motivation for change; it was designed

to address pedagogical issues.