How Technology Affects What Takes Place in Classroom – Or Does it?

From the Academic Matters blog, Techucation

It has been a busy summer in many classrooms around the country, as numerous universities have retrofitted their classrooms to include the latest technology resources. Traditional classrooms are being reconfigured to accommodate the technological tools available on the university modern campus (Baston, 2010).

Unfortunately, the results from the 2009 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, as noted in a Chronicle of Higher Education article, demonstrates that most professors are not taking advantage of these tools (Coddington, 20010).

Despite the great deal of thought and money that go into making the latest educational technology available on campus, many professors ignore the presence of these tools, while other ban the use of technology in their classes (Young, 2010). Instead of considering how these new spaces and technological resources could provide them with an opportunity to change their teaching practice, some instructors suggest that these innovations simply serve as a distraction to conventional teaching.

Wi-Fi routers and easily accessible electrical outlets for students to power up their laptops and connect to the Internet are welcomed by students who are keen to take advantage of online resources that support learning, but derided by professors who would like to ban all electronic devices from class.

Online learning management systems that were initially seen as a great way for instructors to efficiently provide resources to their students and easily broadcast important announcements, now include a host of blog, Twitter and Facebook-like social media resources that can bee seen as drowning out the voice of the professor.

Even the physical configuration of modern classrooms can draw the ire of obstinate professors. Instead of having desks and chairs bolted to the ground, these renovated classrooms have moveable tables and swivelable chairs that were included to facilitate discussion and small group collaboration. Supporters of the 'old school' classrooms, complain that these new configurations detract the student's attention from the instructor by making it too easy for students to chat with their peers instead of listening to the lecture.

The amenities of the modern university are not always compatible with the teacher-centred focus associated with traditional university teaching. To be at peace in this new technology laden landscape professors may need to cast off the role of 'teacher' and instead become a 'learning facilitator'. It may also become necessary for professors to acknowledge that they are not the sole vessel of knowledge in the room thus providing students with opportunities to learn from each other while they learn together. More importantly, it may require professors to accept that - it's not about me. It is about learning.

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