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Ambiguity for Beginners

Lowering-Thresholds to "Get Thru" Killer Gateway Courses 

  FridayLive! Online April 26, 2pm ET

I.  Fundamental, Persistent Ambiguities 
Some essential elements of a subject (e.g.  notation idiosyncratic to the subject) may seem ambiguous to many beginners.  Most who succeed in the subject become adept at instantly resolving those ambiguities through contextual clues.   Consequently, non-beginners (especially subject experts) may no longer recognize those ambiguities as such.  Non-beginners may even be unable to recall how they eventually overcame these ambiguity obstacles.  

Many learners' preparation for Gateway Courses leave fundamental ambiguities unaddressed and unresolved.

Examples of Fundamental Persistent Ambiguities from/for:
Math 101
English 101
Chemistry 101, ..

II.  Resources for Lowering Ambiguity Thresholds 

Context:  Low-Threshold Improvements for "Killer" Gateway Courses 

For people trying to “get thru” these courses or course requirements: 
Students, Faculty, and Those who support them.

"Killer" Gateway Courses 
Terms & Definitions.  Who cares? Why bother? 
First Focus: 4 “Killer” Gateway Courses:
  • Math “101” – pre-algebra, algebra, statistics,…?
  • English “101” – writing, editing, reading, literature…?
  • Chemistry "101" – notation, …?
  • [Computer Literacy, … Other commonly used title for this course?]

Low-Threshold Improvements & LTAs - Characteristics

LTAs = Low-Threshold Applications, Activities

  • Non-intimidating; relatively low-cost; relies on widely-used technology; includes online elements
  • Very brief intro (potential users can learn enough in 2-10 minutes online to reject, explore, or commit to use)
  • Benefits to most students are apparent. And well-documented?
LTPCIs = Low-Threshold Programmatic Course Improvement (LTPCI)
  • Non-intimidating; relatively low-cost; relies on widely-used technology; includes online elements
  • Brief intro (potential users can learn enough in 10-20 minutes online to reject, explore, or commit to launch and use in the next academic term or year.)
  • Benefits to most students are apparent. And well-documented?
  • Includes an improved use of online resources integrated throughout a course;


Become an Individual Member or persuade your institution to become a TLT Group Subscriber.  Members have access to ALL recordings of past online sessions.  Support thoughtful and practical exploration of technology FOR teaching and learning.

Join TLT Group - Member, Subscriber

Why be involved with the TLT Group?  

We find ways to improve teaching and learning with technology in colleges and universities - ways which take advantage of new resources and new ideas without sacrificing the principles that matter most.

Our perspective is especially valuable when external pressures (like the continuing financial crisis) compel many to make - and others to accept - wild claims for the educational possibilities of technology.  

Our approach always builds on respect for what has been accomplished in the past, balanced evaluation of new options, and enthusiasm for emerging possibilities.

We provide resources and ideas that support collaborative change.  We help faculty members and other academic professionals to share their expertise and insights.

We "walk the walk."  We use, demonstrate, and advocate low-cost, low-threshold resources:  tools and activities that are easy to learn, easy to begin using, and have low incremental cost in dollars, time, and stress. We make Frugal Innovations.

The TLT Group helps people in educational institutions to improve teaching and learning by making more appropriate and cost-effective use of information technology without sacrificing what matters most to them.

PO Box 5643     
Takoma Park, Maryland 20913
Phone: 301.270.8312 

To learn more about our work or our organization contact: Sally Gilbert