SOME OF MY BEST STUDENTS want to write with pens on paper. I try to balance their needs with the easy cross-checking that follows well-oiled digital media in the classroom.
I've been teaching third level classrooms for two decades in each of two centuries, which means I've seen classroom technology evolve from loud and large space heaters with footprints as large as chairs to elegant and clever touchscreens that fit in purses. Today, my students are more likely to have a touchscreen tablet than a mouse. But with their technology comes a sort of addiction that needs to be pared back in respect for the learning environment.
I have never abandoned the written word--those peer-reviewed paragraphs inside hard cover textbooks guide our accredited curricula. During many of my lectures, I ask many students to spend time at whiteboards because I learned from chalk talks under the glaring eyes of nuns in my high school. I also remember completing quadratic equations in timed sessions at university level.
I remember the joy of accomplishment from those days and know I don't always need a computer-based game to make learning fun.
So it's a matter of trying to balance the new with the old. I want to distribute lists that hyperlink to deep reading materials and I want students to write journal items in unruled Moleskines.
A major concern I have when training students in the BSc programmes at the Limerick Institute of Technology is access to technology. Many of the immersive practical sessions can only occur by using computers with strong processors, plenty of RAM and fast internet access. During the past three years, access to those machines is time-constrained during the day and that means I encounter students working on assignments between 7-9 PM most weekdays on camppus. In the run up to the examination period, dozens of students are on campus on Saturdays, using labs and the WiFi access. We have adopted a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) philosophy by stealth. This means a young student often has no hope of finishing with top Honours without having either the free time to stay on campus or the resources to ow their own powerful laptop. The technology-laden classroom has become a portable facility in my field of work.
Previously on InsideView.ie:
"Inviting Alexa into the classroom" on February 7, 2017.
"Six electronic tools used in topgold's classroom" on September 18, 2016.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business in the Limerick Institute of Technology. He has an entire photo album dedicated to whiteboards because his phone automagically converts those whiteboard scrawls into OneNote text.]