I have been discussing with my brother and the great folks at our TLT department different ways to implement technology, specifically delivery of course content such as Duke’s iPod program and student created dossiers such as one of the many ePortfolio services. As someone who loves to embrace new tech I have also been cautious about employing it in the classroom until I know that it brings added value to the learning experience and has staying power. That being said, some thoughts occurred to me today that might be worth sharing.
iPods and content delivery: One step on a long journey
Heh, who wouldn’t love to get a new iPod to play with? We know that large numbers of our students already have mp3 devices (over 40% this year, I am told). So, let’s just tap into that! But faculty are a wary bunch and need to be persuaded that this is not just more work for them. (Not to mention that students may not want an iPod, have a different player, can’t afford one, etc. Those are other compelling concerns.) What I am realizing wrt to faculty, course content, and electronic delivery is that we need to make a data as unfettered as possible. That is to say, Dr. Wallace will be more likely to record his lectures, and perhaps even incorporate his PPT into an enhanced mp3, if he knows that it will still be a useful and accessible resource in the future.
The administrator in me wants to know if, for example, buying iPods for 200 students as a pilot is worthwhile. When we consider the life of the device, the concerns of being locked into a particular format (AAC?), and the cost of training faculty and students, I begin to question whether that is a sound investment. But when I begin to view this as one step on a continuing journey I am less concerned about the future of the iPod and more interested in the pedagogical process. How are we going to deliver course content tomorrow, next year, five years from now, etc.? How are the students going to access and interact with the content? How will it enhance and aid them in learning?
So if we frame the discussion in terms of which next step on this journey is going to take us in the right direction (not lead us into a dead end, or commit us to a rocky path, and so on until the metaphor is abused beyond all recognition) then I think we will have more constructive initiatives and I think we will bring more faculty along with us. We won’t be doing things “because we can” but because they are helping us move farther along our path while reassuring the faculty that data will still be accessible, malleable, and (hopefully) useful down the road.
I have more thoughts on this but now I need to return to old-fashioned pedagogical styles such as writing and delivering a paper.
One thought on “Technology in Higher Ed: One step at a time.”
It is honestly the only way to look at things — as a step by step approach. I like to take the long view with all of it … we deal with faculty who are early adopters, mif-range users, and the ones who stay far behind. It is always easy to hit the first group with first generation ideas. This group is critical when you look at the long range — they inform us as they are usually on board with the latest concepts and will allow us to come in and do some assessment to help shape the opportunities for the second group. If you look at podcasting, everyone assumed faculty would just create audio recording of lectures — while that is happening, by turning early adopters on to podcasting we are seeing far more interesting and engaging ways to use it. These data points will help us get to the next level with it all.
While I think iPods for students is an interesting concept for a lot of reasons, you are asking the more important questions … what I would want to make sure of is related to the faculty use of the tools. Being assured faculty of how faculty would take advantage of the technology would make me feel more confident about dropping the cash for 200 iPods. So the challenge isn’t the purchase of the technology, it is the pedagogical approaches and strategies we’d use to get faculty to fully engage students in new and interesting ways. It is a good conversation and could be worthy of a (podcasted) conversation.