Monday, September 28, 2015

A Musing on Technology and Teaching

This will be a brief entry, as CCE is visiting with us for the next three days. But I was thinking about technology, and how it applies in the classroom and clinical settings, for educational purposes. It is clear that today’s students learn in ways somewhat alien to those of us who are older, who learned via the traditional teaching method of lecture and lab. I grew up in that world, and am comfortable with taking notes, reading books and studying hard. Our students are not.
This was made clear to me in a couple of ways. The first is that when I came to class last Thursday morning, my early students (there before class was to begin) were, without exception, sitting in class looking at either their tablet or their smartphone. They were not taking to each other; rather, they were reading something, either a text message or a webpage of some sort. And most of our students now come to class armed with such technology, and as a result they are now less likely to interact in class. This is now how they communicate. Think about it- have you ever received a text message from someone in your office suite who could have easily walked 20 feet to your office? Happens to me daily- text messages are the way people communicate now- and I find it impersonal and a bit passive aggressive, to be honest.

The second thing is that we no longer need to remember information. Google has become our collective memory; whatever piece of information you need can be found there. Of course, once we find a piece of information, we need to verify that it is true. If nothing else, the information posted on Facebook is often twisted and wrong, yet is posted by people who believe it is true because it fits in with some sort of preconceived belief- political, scientific- they already hold. Thank goodness for websites such as snopes. Com, which often deconstructs or exposes the falsehood.

But that is why critical thinking is so important. That is the skill we need to focus on, training our students to think critically about the information they find. I think we do this fairly well, and we do so by yoking technology, such as Brightspace, to our abilities as teachers and clinicians.

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