My son Alex is an average 20-year-old college sophomore. He gets OK grades, and like many people his age, seems more interested in video games than school. Looking at him, you might think that nothing in particular excites him.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
“Hybrid education” has become a hot catchphrase recently as faculty blend face-to-face learning with online technology. But the growth of hybrid education has been steered by the unstated assumption that hybrid technology should be used to facilitate discussion outside of the classroom, while classroom time should be spent lecturing.
Anyone teaching a class or giving a presentation faces a fundamental challenge. You want to make the most of every minute you have with your students, but it’s been proven that we can only retain about 20 minutes of content in our short-term memory before we have to reflect on it in order to move it to our long-term memory or it will be lost. Add to this the violently condensed attention span of the general population and anyone hoping to provide a content-rich education in the time slots of traditional classes faces an uphill battle.
Many people take it on faith that online education must be run through a learning management system (LMS) like Blackboard, Angel, etc. Those systems were originally designed to allow faculty to move their courses online without having to learn HTML coding. They provided all of the tools needed to deliver an online course in one package.
It is critical to spend time training your students how to properly use the systems you’ve adopted into your teaching repertoire. A common fallacy is to believe that because students today are “digital natives”—meaning that they grew up with technology—they are good at using any technology. I’ve found that students’ understanding of technology is narrow and deep. They are very adept at text messaging and navigating Facebook, but they are not versed in using blogs, wikis, document sharing systems, and the like.
This is a true story. Professor “Jones” decides to experiment with a blog in his class. It takes him about 10 minutes to set up a free site using Blogger. He then watches students engage in lively discussions of case studies outside of class, and tweaks the blog as experience teaches him how best to use the system.
Most people assume that any presentation must be accompanied by a PowerPoint. Many conferences even tell presenters that they must submit their PowerPoint slides before the show–assuming that presenters will use PowerPoint just as they assume that presenters will be wearing shoes. Yet we’ve all seen terrible PowerPoints that detract from the presentation, so much so that we’ve coined the term “PowerPoint induced sleep.”
Most universities press their faculty to add technology to their classroom by adopting the Learning Management System—Blackboard, Moodle, etc. This is a mistake. Faculty often end up spending hours learning the system and loading the same content that they use in the classroom, and finish wondering if the benefit was worth the effort.
Most academics consider Wikipedia the enemy and so forbid their students from using Wikipedia for research. But here’s a secret that they don’t want you to know—we all use Wikipedia, including those academics.