Tale 1
I attended what I thought was going to be an informal gathering of tech types (teachers, animation artists, web developers, small tech business owners) and was astounded to see every presenter pull out their computer and do a formal presentation for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of questions. The audience passively conformed, rarely commenting, occasionally questioning. The meeting was held in a local bar back room just to add to how bizarre this is and people pulled the chairs into rows and pushed the tables to the side.

What an opportunity wasted! How often do 20 year olds and 50 year olds gather on a Saturday to talk about innovative uses for technology? What cultural forces were at work that even in an informal gathering, innovative people reacted so traditionally.

Tale 2
I videotaped one of our professors teaching a large class (100) of first year medical students about the chemistry involved in muscle contraction. He started with standard PowerPoint with images, then asked for 18 volunteers to come to the front to represent elements of muscle contraction. Meanwhile he ran down the aisle from the back of the room (chemical input) while the class threw paper balls representing calcium at him. There was then a lively discussion about how to improve the representation and the task was repeated. The prof then gave students a link to a website with animations where they could review the process individually.

I noticed how high the students' energy level was and they offered useful insights and spontaneous questions throughout the class. When I talked to the prof afterwards, he said that he chose this process because it was both interactive and multi-modal. He wanted students to both remember the chemical terms and understand the process of chemical interactions, so he got students to practice both.

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