I recently came across an article presenting ideas about how tablet technology, and mobile devices, will change the landscape of education, higher education included. This article was received on the heels of a three-day technology and education conference I attended in Silicone Valley Light, Austin, a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few thoughts I have about technology that are informed by information obtained at this conference as well as this article (there are many other articles I’ve posted that provide further exploration of the issues).
There is No Magic Bullet for Student Success/Institutional Growth
Technology is not a magic bullet. We will not see a boon in student success or growth at our institution simply because we give out iPads or require laptops for students. Technology is a hammer. A hammer does not build the house. It is the use of the hammer that builds the house. This is the first step in understanding how and why we should use technology. Latest and greatest technology means absolutely nothing without proper use and implementation to teaching.
We Have to Change
Since I have been at HPU, finishing up 5yrs, there have been enough computers on our campus, via labs, for students to have been engaged and taught with technology. The tools are and have been available. So, how are we doing in utilizing our current tools to enhance our teaching, help our students succeed, and in recruiting and retaining students through constant communication? I am an advocate for one-to-one technology, every student having a device. I am also an advocate for a standard device across campus, such as the iPad, so that we can have standard technological requirements for our students.
In music we often talk about teaching in the same vain we ourselves were taught. For me, I constantly have to examine my teaching so that I don’t fall into this trap. I’m not implying that I received poor instruction, on the contrary, but my students are not entering into collegiate studies with my experience. While I grew up in a high tech environment it is not even close to the environment our current students are coming from. For our future students their tech environment will be even more complex and integrated into their everyday lives than students on our campus. With this thought in mind I say we must change our philosophy, our pedagogy, our approach to teaching, so that we can better prepare our current and future students for success. Proper use of technology requires us as faculty to change our ways, our lecturing, our assessing, everything except our content expertise.
Amazon Knows Me Well
If you have purchased anything from Amazon you have probably seen the book or item suggestions at checkout or on the homepage. Amazon knows me very well. The data that Amazon has on me in astounding. It knows within a matter of seconds what my likes are, what my interests are, and it offers suggestions based on these likes and interests, with staggering specificity. Amazon gives me this feedback within seconds, no, within a second. Amazon is a website, a store, a place where I go to buy things, acquire books, download to my kindle, etc., not a person.
The amount of and types of data that we have on students because of technology is immense. We have research data thrown out at break-neck speed about what students are doing and how they are and will be doing it. What are we doing with this data? For most institutions of higher learning we are bringing this information to committees. These committees are thinking about the data; talking about the data; wondering how we can use the data; checking with administration about the data; bringing recommendations to faculty about the data; discussing the data; tabling the data; discussing the data again; voting on the data; putting a strategic plan in place about the data….
You can, hopefully, see the absurdity in my statement. By the time we have figured out what to do with the data those students we had the data on have graduated. The data is no longer relevant. We must speed up this process. Higher education can never be as fast as Amazon. We can, however, do a better job of using the data we have on students. How about we shoot for 4-6 months of analyzing and implementing changes based on data instead of 4-6 years. Amazon is giving us a BIG clue about how we can use data to better meet the needs of our current and future students.
Technology is always going to change. The pace at which it is changing will not slow done, either. To be successful in the future we must become co-learners with out students. Students come to education with a wealth of knowledge. It might not be exactly what we want them to know, but they come with differing levels of expertise (think Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed – particularly the “banking concept”). Students are also experienced incollaborating with others in the learning process. Instead of pushing them aside, or telling them through our actions that their knowledge is useless, what if we joined them in the learning the process? What would happen if we took our content expertise and paired it with their knowledge of information manipulation and broadcast?
I’m not there yet. I’ll never arrive. But one thing I must do is keep striving to meet the needs of our students.
What say you? What do you think about the article? Let me hear your thoughts on my stream of consciousness….