Friday, July 31, 2009

Teaching naked

Students can download lectures online and find libraries of information on the Web. Why bore them with what they already have.
The purpose of presence is engagement; talk with them, discuss, debate, provoke. Construct lnowlegde together rather than throwing it at them.

Reported by Jeffrey Young, A dean at Southern Methodist University is proudly removing computers from lecture halls. José A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, challenges colleagues to "teach naked"—by which he means, sans machines.

The article cites a survey consisting of 211 students conducted at the University of Central Lancashire and published in April in the British Educational Research Journal.
59% of students reported at least half of their lectures were boring, and that PowerPoint was one of the dullest methods.

Students in the survey gave low marks not just to PowerPoint, but to all kinds of computer-assisted classroom activities.
"The least boring teaching methods were found to be seminars, practical sessions, and group discussions."
To summarise, tech-free classrooms are more engaging.

Despite millions of dollars in investment in hightech; teaching and learning is about engagement. Bells and whistles might gain attention, but they are not a substitute for teaching.
So stop using the slide-display program of power-point as a crutch rather than as a creative tool.

Personally, I happen to like ppt...and dont want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, or teach naked...
I dont have control over resources and do have the constraints of large class sizes, (usually well in excess of 150 at a time) and this does impact on debates and discussions. There are a few things that the large class size does better, the mexican wave comes to mind. And there are some advantages to a hightech environment, it just needs using better.
Think big screen, big environment, but also think engagement...

Here's resources I recommend if you are going to use ppt and the tech available, and want to do it better:
Animoto. (2009) The end of slideshows. Retrieved May 17 2009 from
Brown, G., and Godin, S. (2009). Seth Godin’s Presentation hierachy. Retrieved May 17 2009 from
Kaptarev, A. (2006). Death by bullet point and how to avoid it. Retrieved 17 May 2009 from
Kawasaki, G. (2006). The art of the start. Retrieved May 17 2009 from
Palmer, Parker J. (2007). The Courage to Teach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Reynold, G (n.d). PresentationZen blog

(Thats the nuts and bolts, philosophizing on ed is another issue for another day)

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