Steve Dembo is noting another way the tools are pushing us to reinvention:
Some professors posting their lectures online as podcasts claim their seeing a rise in absenteeism. Professors are responding by having more pop quizzes or giving extra credit for attending class.
Am I missing something? What’s the problem here? If students can get all of the necessary information and pass the final exam just by listening to the podcasts, then A ) the student should get a cookie and B ) the professor do some serious thinking about how much value there is of hearing the information firsthand.
If the student could just as easily get all the information from a podcast, then isn’t the lecture period being completely wasted?
And then he asks this really big question:
When the lecture, presentation slides and notes can all be shared online, what SHOULD a higher education class look like?
To be honest, I have a secret wish that when my kids get old enough for college (in about 10 years), that they’ll have consumed all of the necessary consumables and just be showing up to classes that focus on actually taking an active role in the learning. What a concept…
But these are old habits. And we’ve got our fair share of ’em down here in K-12 land as well.
Jeff Moore says
Teachers using Moodle in my district are reporting that they can dispense with a lot of “work” through the courseware and focus on experiential and student-centered activities in class. Forums and other social tools in Moodle are allowing them to “prime the pump” for higher-order activities. It’s, hands-down, the biggest and best benefit we’re seeing from Moodle.
Typically, I worry that colleges are not prepared to receive students who’ve been “trained” under more progressive, student-centered models. It’s a catch-22. Many colleges are unsatisfied with our “product” and demand to see research on the efficacy of progressive models. When we produce it–say, the Eight Year Study–and prove that progressive models developed right there in said colleges graduate students that do just fine, if not much better, it’s still not enough to get past the guards at the foot of the Ivory Tower. No matter what they advocate in the way of progressive pedagogy, these colleges seem content to blame secondary schools for producing sub-par students when professors discover that our graduates may not be willing to sit, all glassy-eyed, in lecture halls to bathe in professorial egotism and the propaganda of disciplinarity.
We’re perhaps a few yards ahead of them on this issue, but we’re all learning the hard way that tech-savvy students have more of an ability to make change in our methods than ever before. That’s doubly so if we do right by (rather than ignore) our students and technology. In embracing technology–social, timeshifting, whatever–we empower our students to alter our institutions. Scary, to be sure, but you’d have a tough time convincing me that there’s any better learning environment for our students (and anything better for our profession) than taking students seriously, as citizens rather than pre-workers or pre-college students.
I’m with you, Will, in hoping that colleges are ready for my kid. I may have a better shot at this, though, as my kid is a few years younger.
I had similar thoughts upon reading an article about the University of Cincinnati experimenting with podcasting. Here is my take:
The University of Cincinnati is experimenting with podcasting. Or should it be called “profcasting?” The frame of the article below is interesting. I think the equivocating over the value of podcasting is probably typical behavior when any new technology is adopted. First, we try to do the same things we’ve always done, except with the new tools. Then as the technology erodes the conventions of how we have done things in the past, we question the technology’s value and wonder if we have lost anything by using it.
Here, in the article, we have a lecturer replaced by … the recording of a lecturer. Hardly revolutionary, but it gives the student the option for asynchronous and mobile listening. Some lecturers worry that no one will show up to hear them lecture. What do we lose then? The technology is calling into the question the pedagogical method as the recordings obviate the lecturer. So what we need to question, along with the value of the technology, are the environments and methods of teaching and learning.
What is missing from the article is the fact that podcasting does not need to be a one-way street. Students can produce podcasts, share podcasts and listen to podcasts in almost any — if they choose to search for them — genre or academic discipline. Podcasting allows students to build their own “course” from the shared intellectual wealth of the globe. Podcasting can also be a way for students to present their own learning in a way that requires clarity of thought and grace of expression that might only be motivated by preparing work that will be heard by all their classmates and, if not sequestered behind a log-in, the whole world. The important, and perhaps dispruptive, question is: what value does our institution, our knowledge and experience, add to this environment?