I was amused by a The Chronicle of Higher Education story that landed in my in box this morning (link to full article).
Jeffrey Young notes several problems I.T. consultants face when training faculty. Young got savaged a while back by our Virtual Worlds Roundtable group for what we perceived to be poor reporting in OpenSim and Second Life. This time around, in my opinion, he did a much better job of interviewing several experts, including Chris Dede, a professor of learning technologies at Harvard.
A US DOE plan based upon Dede's ideas about edu-tech laggards has just been released, and the findings of a survey of 4,600 faculty nationwide startle even neo-luddite me:
Only 13 percent of the professors surveyed said they used blogs in teaching; 12 percent had tried videoconferencing; and 13 percent gave interactive quizzes using "clickers," or TV-remotelike devices that let students respond and get feedback instantaneously. The one technology that most teachers use regularly—course-management systems—focuses mostly on housekeeping tasks like handing out assignments or keeping track of student grades.
Boring, boring. Blackboard to me has always been a gated community for dumping handouts, and, truth be told, a place to avoid DMCA violations (the only reasonable use I can find for it).
Two of the Young's recommendations, based on interviews with experts, might help what (to this observer) is a stagnation in the use of virtual worlds in higher ed:
- "Enlist longtime professors with no particular interest in technology and get them to try the latest online forums, videoconferencing, or clickers. . . .Then encourage the professors to give a lunch talk for their colleagues."
- Stress goals, not technology: "Typically, colleges give seminars with titles like '5 Ways to Use a Wiki in Your Class' or 'Getting Started With Blackboard.' " Instead, Dede recommends that tech liaisons "deal with issues that keep faculty up at night. The titles should be, How do you keep students coming to your class rather than just copying the notes off the Web? or, How to get students to respond really deeply rather than from CliffsNotes."
Goodbye to yellow notes and, I hope, PowerPoint slide-shows.