Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mobile phones "ON" please!

On Friday I was facilitating an all-day session on the use of technology to enhance teaching. As the session coordinator introduced me, she said to the group "Please make sure your mobile phones are turned off." I'm sure you've heard that before, it seems to be a common part of many presentation openers these days. Why?

How are our we using our mobile phones? Today's mobile of choice for our students, the iPhone, certainly isn't used very often to make "plain old telephone calls"! It's a powerful ICT device, giving the user access to an extraordinary volume of human knowledge, immediately accessible at any time. Knowledge that I want in my classroom!

Not surprisingly, I told everyone to leave their phones on, and to actively use them at any stage during the session. The odd ringing phone is less of a hindrance to learning than lack of information.

And our students don't let their phones ring out loud anyway - a loud ringtone during a lecture or class is a sure sign of a digital immigrant in the room!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

University 2.0

Over the past few months, amongst a whole range of procrastination activities, I've been doing some research and writing. One of the articles that keeps appearing on my screen, and resonates with my views on tertiary education today, is this one by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams (EDUCAUSE, 2010), where they are clearly calling for change.

Their message is simple: Universities will only survive in the networked, global economy if they open up and embrace collaborative learning and collaborative knowledge production (p.18).

So what has to change?
  • "Lectures", in their traditional form, must go. As Tapscott argues, many of our highest achieving students aren't attending lectures anyway!
  • We should be utilising technology to embrace collaboration, both within the classroom and outside of it.
  • Higher levels of interaction are desparately needed between "professors" and students. Otherwise, our students will simply turn to the almost-endless supply of free resources online.
  • Incentive systems at universities must be adjusted to reward teaching, not just research.
"It's time!" (Tapscott, 2010, p.29)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is the tide turning?

Maybe it's just my selective attention, but I've been noticing more discussion in the media recently about the need for balance in universities.

In this article in The Age today, Morag Fraser argues that "our universities care more about how they fare in research rankings than they do about the quality of the education their students receive. What's more, the government's funding arrangements encourage this. The bulk of the dollars follow performance in research."

What do you think? Is it time to tip the scales in favour of teaching quality?