Note: The following comments were received from Professor David Schwinn in response to the briefing paper on Generations of Teaching and Learning Technology. Since they were longer than could comfortably fit within the reply box, we made a new briefing post for them. The reader may wish to visit the original paper first if they haven’t already read it.
The subject paper provides an informative review of how we use technology to teach and learn. As I began reading the paper, I was struck by two observations:
- Our students and, of course, all of us learn in different ways. The paper reviews verbal, oral, and kinesthetic learning, but I am using a book in one my current courses that reviews, for example, 7 kinds of intelligence and, therefore, 7 ways to learn. We all learn in different ways and, I believe, tend to teach in the way in which we most comfortably learn. It is certainly a challenge for me and, by extension, many of us to facilitate learning in other ways so that we are most likely to help students with ways of learning that are different from our own.
- Perhaps the most important thing we do, as instructors, is to engage with our students in dialogue. Whenever we get beyond a face-to-face classroom, meaningful dialogue is more challenging.
As I move deeper into the paper, I find an assertion that conflicts with some of my own views.
The third paragraph, as I understand it, says that Gen Zero classes produce weaker success rates than more recent technologies. My own experience leads me to think hybrid and online courses yield lower student success rate. I have no data, so I may be wrong. We did, however, find that MGMT 234 student success rates were statistically lower when online courses were introduced. That phenomenon may have been a result of the learning curve associated with using new technology, but it still holds after 5 years of data. That may mean that there are improvement opportunities in the use of technologies beyond Gen Zero.
I generally agree with the other descriptions of Gen One and want to highlight a few that, in my view, are particularly important ideas:
- I think the idea of asynchronous dialogue that is both oral and visual is an extremely valuable tool. It accentuates the importance of dialogue discussed earlier.
- Verbal grading of student assignments is another valuable way to engage in dialogue with our students.
- Virtual team work is difficult, but because it is part of the real world, we should continue to use it.
- Virtual learning does create isolation. That is an opportunity for system improvement.
- Because I think my course must be continually reshaped to accommodate student interests and concerns and a changing world, I find face-to-face teaching more challenging than what seems to be described in the paper. However, I agree that Gen One technology makes meaningful interaction with students much more time consuming, and much less satisfactory.
The section on Generation Today opens better opportunities for user-generated content. That seems to me to be an exciting way to create more collaboration among all of us as learners.
The future takes me back to the beginning. LCC has, among others, two strengths: a history of leading the way with technology and excellent professors. A powerful way forward would be to strategically pursue high quality, reliable technology that makes both synchronous and asynchronous virtual dialogue (visual, written, and oral) among students and instructors that is easy and flourishing. This future would give LCC a competitive edge in higher education. I believe it would require at least two things:
- A proactive effort to co-design this new technology for LCC.
- An exceptional faculty development effort to productively use the new technology. Faculty development would have to be available with all channels of communication including coaching 24/7, 365 days a year in order to help faculty find the resources necessary to make the new technology work as designed.