Posted by: clholoman | August 20, 2010

Hi tech, lo tech, no tech

We had a great two days of Fall Faculty Institute Wednesday and Thursday. (Well, at least I thought they were great–and the informal feedback I’ve heard has been positive.)

We did have a few glitches in the technology that were pretty easily worked around (thanks to our great IT staff) but it points to a topic that bubbles around all the time and seems to have heated up a little more in recent weeks–the appropriate use of technology in the classroom.

I’m a little (or maybe a lot) conflicted on this, since I am by nature, and talent, I think, inclined to the “sage on the stage” lecture model, but also appreciate and love tech stuff. As an administrator, I have asked faculty to reach a level of “minimal technological competence:”  the ability to check e-mail and phone messages from home and to send out an e-mail blast to class members using the course management system.  Beyond that, I encourage folks to stay acquainted with developments and use technology as they see fit. (Of course, at some point, you have to draw a line–my usual example is that we don’t let people use ditto masters anymore. We’re pretty much at that point with overhead transparencies, etc.)

In the end, I think this is a fundamentally flawed debate and the more I think about it, the more amazed I am that people get worked up over it. I would like to think that a fairly small amount of reflection would lead us all to the conclusion that the only thing that really matters is student learning and technology is only one of many tools that can be used. What’s appropriate depends on many factors.

Now that does presume, erroneously, that we’ve all made the paradigm shift from teaching to learning,  understand that there are different learning styles, and that recognize that the most effective ways of helping students learn change over time. But still, read the Chronicle article linked above and the comments and it’s kind of depressing how entrenched some of the technophiles and technophobes are.

I also note this in one of the comments:

If we all spent a little less time engaged in inane (not always but too darn often) blogging, commenting, and venting and spent a little more time thinking about and modifying our teaching, we’d all (students and faculty) be better off…

So I guess I’ll stop there, for now.


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