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Do we need technology to reach today’s learners?

This was a forum posting for one of my classes. My response started becoming so long that I decided to put it here. After all, it’s a question worth exploring. Here’s the full question:

Do we need technology to reach today’s learners? Is a chalk board enough? How did we ever learn before the computer?

I would say yes, we do need it — but not necessarily because low-tech methods don’t/didn’t work. Just look at some of the advances made by humanity prior to 1960. Clearly, people were quite capable of learning before computers invaded the classroom.

I say yes mostly because of student expectations today. Today’s students were likely born in an age where there were never not computers, video games, and the Internet. Technology surrounds them in every aspect of their lives. It’s comfortable and familiar to them. There was never a time that it didn’t permeate their lives.

With the age gap widening, and technology becoming ever more important in almost every professional field, students are becoming increasingly confused and/or disillusioned when instructors avoid bringing it into the classroom. From my own experience with higher-ed students, the teachers that try to avoid technology are seen — at least to a degree — as bring outdated paper-wasters that are out of touch with the world that today’s will have to live in. I’ve heard many comments to the effect of, “Duh! Why do I have to turn this in on paper? Do they even know that email exists?” I’ve also seen instructors roll out overhead projectors and heard a quiet chorus of snickers and seen a wave of eye-rolling. Student engagement in these courses was often unimpressive.

That’s not to say that what Dr. Overhead Projector had to teach wasn’t perfectly relevant/interesting/useful. He/she often had plenty interesting information to offer, but the impression made by his/her avoidance of technology turned students off quicker than a power-outage. Most of these students were in their early to late 20s. Many of them had lived before the advent of the Internet. How will students born after the Web respond to all-paper classrooms, overhead projectors, chalkboards and pencil sharpeners?

Posted under: Educational Psychology

1 comment ↓

#1 by Vevin on 06.01.15 at 12:18 am

, and a hard one to counter. So I won’t. I’ll just say that his books are well lay out (I agree his westbie isn’t), and his books offer sound advice. As such, he is an author I respect.But come on; one thing is theoretical ?transparency confuses the eye? and another is ?does it in fact add even a milisecond of response time and/or an iota of stress when you need to press the ?take call? button?I?m going to go with a resounding ?no!?.I mean honestly. Honestly, do you really think this is a problem?Actually no, I don’t see a problem. And yes, it looks pretty sexy. I can in this case, even see that people would want to make their cellphones personalized thereby creating an emotional attachment (did you see that photos could be cropped to wallpapers?). Taking that to one of the the primary uses of the device, the phone aspect, I can see why the big buttons for take call would benefit from being slightly semi transparent so that the emotional attachment shines through instead of being all blocked out.That said, the topic of the controversy was taking these emotional attachment and lightness of the chrome metaphors to the extreme of making them the new default UI for OSX. This would make me uncomfortable, for a number of reasons (and make a switch less likely to happen).When I first saw the transparency in Vista in screenshots, I was totally put off. I was only mildly appeased when trying it out (it’s not as bad as it looks), but I still don’t think it was a good decision. Stack a number of transparent windows on top of each other, and it’s not only the wallpaper (a.k.a. the emotional attachment) that shines through, it’s also the mud of a bunch of other apps.As Sebastian says, this using transparency in operating system UIs (not necessarily the iPhone) immensely smells of marketing, emerging tech and wowfactor / eyecandy.So, long story short: why should OSX which shines in many aspects, especially UI look, copy this aspect of the Vista window chrome? Think a transparent black glass Finder and stuff. No sir, I don’t like that idea.I just don?t see it. I see a lot of things, most of them ending it ? ,hot damn that?s just too sexy!?, and none of them end in ? ,hot damn that?s just too sexy, but unusable!?.I agree, damn sexy. I like this device for the video, the mp3, the internet and the photo stuff. As for the phone aspect, I’d be too scared of scratching it to use it as a phone, i.e. roughly and storing it among keys and other sharp things.Edit: Fixed typos and stuff.

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