This summer I’ve had the luxury of reading widely. It is something I highly recommend, but something I often have trouble finding the time to do.
The topic that has most grabbed my attention this summer is the revolution in teaching and learning which is on the verge of happening–maybe. I was reading a very thoughtful essay by Mitchel Resnick yesterday titled, “Revolutionizing Learning in the Digital Age.” Resnick writes:
[W]hile digital technology could make a learning revolution possible, it does not guarantee it. Early results are not encouraging. In most places where digital technology is used in education, it is used simply to reinforce outmoded approaches to learning. To take full advantage of new technology, we need to fundamentally rethink our approaches to learning and education, and our ideas of how new technology can support them.
In other words, we are asking students to write the same old papers using a PC as a typewriter, albeit a more sophisticated one, rather than thinking more deeply about what new types of assignments drawing on higher level cognitive skills can be facilitated with digital technologies that simply couldn’t be done without.
Resnick does, in my view, a very good job of diagnosing the problem, but the solution is less clear. I am convinced that the traditional mode of undergraduate teaching and learning, what economists call “chalk & talk,” is not the best way of teaching every topic in my courses. What I don’t know is what mode is best for each topic. I was trained as a content expert (okay, I’m using the term loosely)not as a technologist or an educator. I don’t even know all the possibilities. My universe of pedagogical tools consists of:
ï¿½ Class Discussions,
ï¿½ Primary and Secondary Texts, in print and digital versions,
ï¿½ Written Assignments,
ï¿½ In-class Exercises and Experiments,
ï¿½ Images and Graphics,
ï¿½ Audio Recordings/Podcasts,
ï¿½ Video Recordings,
What I plan on doing for the rest of the summer, is going through the topics in my intro course and thinking about what’s the best tool for student learning here. Any suggestions?