Are we complicating the process of learning through the avid use of technology?There appears to be, in some quarters, a perception that the next generation of learners will need everything in an electronic format: that they will not engage if we do not ‘tool up’.I have serious doubts that this is actually true, and I would fervently challenge those who bandy around statements such as “the lecture is dead”. As a student with a DIY ethic who uses technology all the time, I do not broach this subject with any particular bias in mind.
Whilst it is true that information can be packaged and prerecorded, I think we are sometimes guilty of giving our learners too much credit. Let me explain…To be a really good DIY student, you need to be immensely disciplined, skilled in resourcing materials and have an idea of how to move from A to B. Some argue that in a similar vein traditional education naturally provides skills, lessening the burden on the learner.
Whilst it is true that you cannot guarantee engagement, I do believe that learners are more likely to do more work when pressured by a schedule and an environment like the lecture, which I have first hand experience of. I’ve watched lots of materials online and never done any actual problems/exercises, whereas placed back in the environment of the lecture and tutorial, I have done countless problems/exercises. This has allowed me to scrutinise, reinforce and apply the subject matter.
In a previous post I eulogised about the Khan Academy, so am I not being hypocritical? Well I would argue no. The reason the Khan Academy works is precisely because it provides a structure for the learner, which is watch, watch again and practise.
Perhaps I should actually make a point here, although I am not entirely sure that I have come to any concrete conclusions myself. I guess the main idea is that we really need to look carefully at what motivates learners; use technology when appropriate but perhaps better understand that learning can be a chore and maybe, just maybe, having to attend a lecture on a subject once a week for 3 months helps keep people motivated and on track.