So this morning we had this story being reported in the local newspaper: ‘Lecturer bans personal computers from classes: Student blames distraction on ‘excruciatingly boring’ lecture‘ – after a short while the University issued an update: University encourages use of technology!
Well from an academic perspective I feel it’s rather embarrassing for us as academics at Higher Education, that we’re still propagating this kind of teaching – that we’re the fountain of knowledge – and hence students “can not” learn unless they sit back in a seat and listen for a couple of hours at a stretch. It seems that many share this kind of “vision” (??!!) for teaching – and we’re talking about Higher Education, whatever that means.
I feel one of my greater battles is to break through this kind of mentality.
From a researcher’s perspective, on the other hand, I find this attitude from other academics quite interesting to observe. On the one hand, many people – I mean colleagues – talk about the levels which our students need to achieve or the levels of ‘critical thinking’ that our society demands. At this point, if we listen to some of the greatest speakers of today like Ken Robinson, John Seely Brown, Jane McGonigal…we often hear about how our society has changed and is still changing and about how we need to have people out there in the workforce who are able to solve problems before they even come up.
And yet, on the other hand, we keep on hearing about stories such as this one, where at Higher Education, we still have academics who teach as though they think that without them people will not learn, or that they will provide learners with all solutions. My opinion at this point is this… whether we accept it or not, people’s access to information today is widespread – what people want to learn they will, what people don’t find any necessity of learning, they will not learn. It is useless making our learners sit in front of us, even if they are literally ‘cadavers’ sitting through a lecture, listening passively.
We can never stop people from getting lost in ‘neverland’. Does this mean that we can all pack up and leave? Certainly not. My proposed solution? Let’s get our learners’ brains to work, let us get them to actively participate in whatever we would like them to achieve – let’s get them to solve problems. Let us stop talking. Let us start acting. My two cents? Students are right to get bored if academics do not stop talking. Maybe we, as academics, should revisit the way we teach, and start, instead, addressing the needs of the world.