Home > Uncategorized > Another stab at my classes

Another stab at my classes

So I have noticed a rather interesting contradiction among my university education (as many others have I’m sure). Among the requirements of the Elementary Program at the University of Regina is a requirement to take either ECMP 355 – Computers in Education and ELIB 216 – Children’s Literature in the Elementary School Program. Now, assuming at least half of the students took at least ECMP 355 as I did, they will have (hopefully) learned how to use technology in a professional manner to assist the learning process for thier students.

My question is simple: How can a lesson such as this be made practically mandatory for undergraduates to learn but immediately told, inadvertantly, that use of such technology while in class is immoral, unprofessional, or just plain bad. I am writing this in one of my classes and I understand that such action perhaps is unprofessional but this is more my way of expressing my disappointment of this aspect of  the class. As I write, I see the head professor constantly sneaking peaks at the laptop screens in front of her. I see, in the reflection of my screen, the assistant professors scouring the screens from the back of the room, constantly on the look out for the student “goofing off”. I have been “caught” twice this semester talking to people on my MSN Messenger account. I have been giving the same lecture each time on how I should stay on task and start taking notes. Those who know me know I am infamous for not taking traditional notes. Rather than simply rephrasing the slides in my own words on a Word document, I learn the course content by imediately talking about the subject matter with fellow colleagues, family, or friends. Often times, I use MSN to discuss the content with my contacts and many times, I feel I have gained a deepy knowledge of the course content and know that the information will stay with me. Now, I did not have an opportunity to show my chat logs to one professor but I did to the other one. The response I got was less that pleasing. I was told to simply shut down MSN or leave the class. I know some people would say “I’m suuuure you’re consistently on task while in class”. Honestly, I don’t. Like everyone I can find it hard to pay attention for one to three hours at a time but I am still able to use many of the social networking programs on my laptop to properly discuss the content.

I would really like to know why we are told that social media should be used often and professionally but told to keep it out of our lecture halls. Well what happens if we teach the marvels and wonders of social media to future generations. Perhaps some students will use the internet and technology as their primary source of learning. Would that not set them up for failure upon entering the university that almost taunts them by offering internet access but refusing to allow them to use it in ways that they know can benefit from.

I’d like to know the general opinion of everyone out there: students, faculty, and high administration alike. Which would be better? A free and open internet where students can use it for their own wishes, good and bad, or should we simply leave the internet as an “at home luxury” or simply restrict internet access to wired access points (libraries for example) to ensure student “productivity”.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Bethany
    November 16, 2009 at 5:23 PM

    I agree that we should be able to use technology via our lap tops during our lectures in university. We are the ones paying for the class therefore it should not be up to a professor to tell us how we should be learning. Professors and teachers are supposed to be accepting all forms of learning not?

  2. November 16, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    Your insight into your own learning needs is right in line with what brain research tells us about the learning process. Learning is a social process, it requires that we take in information then be given the time to process it in some way. There’s nothing wrong with a lecture as long as the professor understands that an endless string of information pouring in is not retained without some time to digest it, talk about it, process it. Keep up the good fight!

  3. Nathan Wagner
    November 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    Thanks to NBCCSue via Twitter for the following link:
    http://educationinnovation.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/06/new-classroom-rules.html

  4. November 16, 2009 at 8:05 PM

    Long ago I was attending a conference and the keynote speaker promised to keep his remarks short. He cited research that suggested that after ten minutes a speaker has lost a quarter his audience to short term planning: where they will go after the session, lunch plans, etc. After twenty minutes another quarter will be lost to long range planning: summer holidays, investments, etc. The keynote speaker concluded by telling us that after half an hour the rest would be lost to sexual fantasy. We laughed.

    I have carried Daytimers into meetings and planned or drawn pictures. For years I took a Palm Pilot into sessions and wrote short stories as I listened with half an ear. Now I carry my Berry and Tweet and check mail. Rude perhaps; I contribute as much or more than most.

    Your situation is different. No doubt you should maintain primary focus on the outcomes of that class but people multitask all the time. A room full of laptops is unfamiliar to many educators. I have no doubt that when you are in the classroom your students will have 1-1 configurations and your students will be multitasking as you do. I have begun to experience learning through UStream and the like and background chatter adds a marvelous dimension to the seminar. People following divergent ideas sparked by the topic or the comments of others; people taking a mental break to laugh and joke together; links, definitions and analysis flying everywhere. Such a rich way to learn and all simply because we can create multiple links.

    I struggled today with a chatty group of fourth and fifth graders. It really was too much for me and degraded discussion and the quiet needed for work. Well days like that happen. If they had the ability to ask each other questions, problem solve, or even throw in a few quips on a separate channel then things might have been different. Social networking is the coming reality of learning. Most people will catch up to this eventually.

  5. November 17, 2009 at 7:53 AM

    Most instructors have been trained in notions of control and the myth that “gaze” (staring at the instructor/speaker) equals attention. The former is part of “the Protestant Ethic” and the “Prussian Model” of education which presumes that the purpose of school is preparation for military service and assembly line labor. The latter is egocentrism and narcissism.

    Students will do what students do – which is to drop out of non-engaging lessons. They will do it with paper crossword puzzles, by falling asleep, by daydreaming, or via contemporary technology. The only way to challenge that is to engage, but, bad teachers can not engage, so they seek control instead.

    http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2008/06/in-praise-of-distraction.html

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