Technology blues

So I have spent the last several weeks convincing myself my hard drive wasn’t really failing, and then of course it did.  My computer’s in the shop and this blogging platform doesn’t like tablets too much.  I haven’t even been able to congratulate Dan on his recent achievement, so yay Dan!

This does provide a great opportunity to wax nostalgic for teaching techniques gone by.  When I started, it was chalk boards for the most part, but then the rapid rise of the mAchines began.  Powerpoint, Prezi, and their little friends allowed teachers and professors to add a lot to a lecture and students didn’t have to write so fast anymore, especially if the prof posted the notes!  There are a zillion articles on how to use technology well and how it can be used badly, that if I wasn’t fighting just to spellcheck here I’d link to.  This technology has changed the way we teach for good or ill.

In a lot of science fiction novels I’ve read, students stay at home and Learn from their personalized computer tutors.  This utopian/distopian view of the future of education is interesting because one of the main arguments against home schooling is the possible lack of socialization children could get if they never has to interact regularly with children their own age.  A major aspect of active learning, something I wrote about last week, is that students usually work together in groups to learn the material.  Many educational reformers bemoan technology while others hail the rise of MOOCs and online classes.  Some students hate group work, while others do best when working with peers.

If I had an online class right now, things would be bad.  No home computer means I’d be spending even more time at work to get everything done!  I do use powerpoint and lately have recorded some of my lectures for students to review at their leisure, something most have indicated they like.  almost all have also said they prefer to be able to ask me questions about the material in person though.  I take advantage of technology when I think it adds value (I use course evaluations to see what the students thought, not to mention asking them!). I still think the in class experience is most beneficial for most students.  Cost cutting seems to be driving a push towards more online delivery though.

So where can and will technology take education?

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Apostrophobia is a college professor at a women's college in the US. She teaches biology, does pedagogical research on her guinea pigs (aka students), and has an existential fear of misplaced apostrophes.

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