Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dinosaurs are out there

In my role, I am often required to assess units and courses from other universities, either for our students to study abroad, or as part of an advanced-standing application from a student who is transferring to our course. As part of this process, I receive copies of unit and course outlines from universities all over the world, and the content often amazes me. Take the following three examples that crossed my desk this week, all from well-respected universities in the USA:

  • Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices during the class period. Any class disturbances caused by these devices will result in significantly reduced CAPP points.

  • CLASS ETIQUETTE: During the class time you will have my undivided attention... and I expect similar consideration and professionalism from you. Reading newspapers, using cell phones, using laptops for anything other than taking notes will not be accepted. I reserve the right to ask any members who exhibit such behaviour to leave the class.

  • The use of laptop computers for taking notes in class is permitted. Do not use your computer for email, instant messaging, work in other courses, personal projects, or surfing the internet. Doing so will be considered a violation of course etiquette, and serious CAPP points will be deducted.
What do these "rules" say about those who wrote them? Why is technology seen as an evil distraction to learning? These narrow-minded professors, who obviously feel threatened by today's ubiquitous technology, are creating a learning environment which is completely foreign and uninviting to their students, devoid of any interaction, information exchange and interest.

My advice to the "dinosaurs": Your students no longer want to just sit and listen to you. They want to interact, to contribute, to discuss, and to explore. And they want to do all of this using their tools and methods, not your archaic ones. You are no longer the sole source of information, no longer the only way that they can learn. Maybe change is a better alternative than extinction?


James Rose said...

HAHA your lecture that people text messages in wouldn't work very well with these rules- I texted mine from a lap top because it was free.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish you were at my uni!! After reading blog posts about you from Zac Martin & Julian Cole, I don't think any of my lecturer's at Newcastle Uni come close! I think we need more teachers like you.

Zac Martin said...

The perfect metaphor.