IT News Thread, Removing PC's from the classroom improves teaching? in Other News; College leaders usually brag about their tech-filled "smart" classrooms, but a dean at Southern Methodist University is proudly removing computers ...
4th August 2009, 06:00 PM #1
Removing PC's from the classroom improves teaching?
'Teach Naked' Effort Strips Computers From Classrooms - Technology - The Chronicle of Higher Education
College leaders usually brag about their tech-filled "smart" classrooms, but a dean at Southern Methodist University is proudly removing computers from lecture halls. Josť A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, has challenged his colleagues to "teach naked"óby which he means, sans machines.
IDG Tech News
4th August 2009, 10:03 PM #2
"The biggest resistance to Mr. Bowen's ideas has come from students, some of whom have groused about taking a more active role during those 50-minute class periods. The lecture model is pretty comfortable for both students and professors, "
Definition of a lecture: the transfer of information from the teacher's notes to the student's notes without it passing through the brain of either :-)
I'm sure there's a place for lots of variety in teaching; some should be Powerpoint, some other computer based but lecturer guided, some old fashioned "chalk and talk" and so on.
4th August 2009, 11:02 PM #3
Powerpoint should never be used for teaching, ever. It is the most mind numbing and least engaging activty known to man, listening to somone read out their own powerpoint slides.
Originally Posted by srochford
I used to take a magazine to read during those leactures.
4th August 2009, 11:11 PM #4
At least some of the lecturers were courteous enough to provide PDFs of the presentations on the Intranet, so we could all have an extra hour or so to sleep
4th August 2009, 11:39 PM #5
Good, I'm all for it. They have most probably seen the light or read Stoll's book....
Originally Posted by somabc
[ame=http://www.amazon.com/High-Tech-Heretic-Reflections-Contrarian/dp/0385489757/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1249421914&sr=1-12]Amazon.com: High Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian (9780385489751): Clifford Stoll: Books[/ame]
4th August 2009, 11:42 PM #6
There is also this which if you have quite a bit of spare time is well worth a watch:
[ame=http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-666540182028461233&ei=Bqt4SsWSB5PQ-AaVxPm5Dg&q=clifford+stoll&hl=en&client=firefox-a]Talk by Cliff Stoll[/ame]
4th August 2009, 11:47 PM #7
I've been trying to tell that to those boardwork folk for years. just make an interactive website!
Originally Posted by DMcCoy
5th August 2009, 02:37 PM #8
I agree that this is utterly mind-numbing, but there are ways of using PowerPoint that don't involve simply reading out the slide, so to say "Powerpoint should never be used for teaching" is going a bit far. I've seen some very good lessons that use PowerPoint as a visual aid.
Originally Posted by DMcCoy
6th August 2009, 12:37 AM #9
We should probably remember that this article is North American in focus, and "school" and "classroom" mean "university" and "lecture hall" respectively. Universities are (you'd hope, anyway) places where the students take responsibility for their own learning and can be relied upon to make their own way to lectures (classes, workshops, whatever) and listen reasonably attentively once they get there. As such, they can also be relied upon to go and view a video presentation before attending a class, which with modern access to technology should really be a no-brainer. A decent netbook with built-in webcam costs £160 (thanks, Acer Outlet!), and even if you make each student buy one that's still a fraction of the total price of university tuition these days.
I attended maths lectures at university in which the lecturer had obviously been teaching the same material for a number of decades and had everything memorised, if he'd just videoed the material and posted it on YouTube (which hadn't been invented then, but you get the idea) we could have all had time to come along and ask questions at a workshop instead. I also remember the first time I encountered PowerPoint, which was during my masters, probably around the time when PowerPoint was just becoming mainstream. Our lecturer, who other years had rated as an excellent teacher, gave very dull lectures where she repeated the same material that was printed on numerous PowerPoint slides she had, very expertly, prepared for us. The thing was, if she'd just talked as she had in previous years then we'd probably all have thought she was great, but as it was we simply whizzed through the printed handouts and got bored listening to her repeat them over. If nothing else, this just goes to show you how little lecturers and teachers actually know - all their carefully rehearsed lectures can be summed up in something that can be read through in quarter of an hour :-)
However, we mostly work in primary or secondary schools, at which pupils fidget, get bored, avoid work if they can, and generally act in an immature and childish way, which is fair enough, them being children. Getting children to pay attention is the skilful part of teaching. You shouldn't rely on the novelty factor of ICT to hold children's attention as that soon wears off, and children these days aren't nearly as impressed by whizzy gadgets as older adults are. However, there's probably more of a place for ICT in the primary and secondary classroom than there is in higher education lecture halls.
PowerPoint is, actually, a sometimes amazingly flexible tool. It's useless in the classroom for doing what it was designed for - as others have pointed out, repeatedly, a narrated slideshow makes for a really, really dull lesson. Ever seen The Wonder Years with the teacher with the monotonic voice and the old-fashioned slide projector? Think exactly that: just as dull, just as pointless. However, PowerPoint is about the nearest thing we currently have to a decently portable interactive whiteboard file format. It can embed Flash and video interactive content (which OpenOffice Impress still can't) and has built-in handwriting recognition, annotation and highlighting tools, making it perfect for use with pen input devices. It's a distressingly capable text and image page layout tool, too - sure, it's crummy practice, but it works and takes mere seconds to figure out how to drag stuff on to a PowerPoint page and print it out. There was even a post on here yesterday linking to an article that provided PowerPoint templates for PhD dissertation posters done in PowerPoint.
The nice thing about stuff like Boardworks is that the teacher can remix the content themselves - add pages, remove stuff, move interactive content around. If teachers treat Boardworks content as a handy starting point, with the tedious bulk of the work done for them and now ready to add their own content to tailor the material to them and the class, then it's great. Treating any pre-prepared resource as set material that Must Not Be Deviated From is going to make for a dull lesson.
6th August 2009, 08:36 AM #10
Originally Posted by AngryTechnician
You need variety in schools but note (as dhicks has said) the word "school" here probably means university but even there we should have teaching which is not mind-numbing and Powerpoint has a role to play.
I work at a university (Imperial College) and I've seen some superb lecture materials using PP where essentially it's just an aid to the lecture (a quick way of bring in a collection of animations, for example) and the lecture would have been poorer without it.
It's like cream cakes really; a little is good but too much is bad for you :-)
6th August 2009, 09:39 AM #11
That's one (bad) style of teaching though, Powerpoints can be engaging and interesting but the problem is they don't teach you when you are younger how to present one properly so the bad practice continues.....
Originally Posted by DMcCoy
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