Is the Problem With Traditional Education the Lecture or the Lecturer?

The Chronicle has an interesting article about how A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn’t Working. It also touches on how a techno-phobic professor is having success with standard lecture formats.

I think at some point we are going to have to realize that old methods aren’t all bad, and new methods aren’t always the saviour.

What this article shows is that anytime anything is used as a quick or easy fix for education, students lose interest. Lectures might take time to prepare, but once they are set they typically get re-used over and over again and in many easy ways they become quick and easy fixes for education in subsequent semesters.

Technology is also often used as a quick easy fix. Need engagement? Sign up for Twitter! Need connection? Create a Facebook Page! Need to confuse your school administration? Teach a MOOC!

Many professors use Twitter, Facebook, and mobile devices and still come across as the “sage on the stage.” In the same sense, many professors stand at the front and lecture and still come across as the “guide at the side.”

Like many of us know in education, it is not as much the tool or method you use as much as how you use it. Active learning can sometimes be as much about active teaching as it is about what the learners do. Passive teaching can happen with or without technology, and students won’t engage with it no matter what fancy new tech tools you use.

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