Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Faculty resistance to using IT tools in active learning instructional strategies

I've been reading through a behemoth of a discussion on the Ning network - Innovate-Ideagora called Addressing the problem of faculty resistance to using IT tools in active learning instructional strategies. There is so much of interest that I had to read it all. I wanted to record my main learning points here because I am positive there are many. The problem is that, as with any discussion, the discourse jumps around a lot and it's difficult to absorb properly as you move through the debate. However, I'm going to try and record the main issues here. When reading debates of this kindsd common issues crop up:

  • Challenging the notion of the "lecture"
  • Didactic vs collaborative pedagogies (in this discussion active learning is the key phrase)
  • Higher education research priorities
  • Assessment - and it's driving force dictating the teaching
  • Process learning now becoming more important than fact-based learning
Interesting side issues here including the nature of blended learning and issues of cheating which was linked to the nature of assessment. Below are some additional thoughts.

A lot of the debate pitted the lecture against active learning strategies exemplified in the TEAL initiutive from the physics dept. of MIT. So the heart of the issue is the realisation that the most important thing we are doing is promote active learning through learning technologies - not just learning technologies. It's important that we understand that.

The discussion explored how a lot of learning technology use involved augmenting the lecture experience, reinforcing it in a way that didn't promote active learning - a reinforcement that added to the cost of the learning experience. Steve Eskow was prominent in challenging the notion of the lecture as all powerful and advocating alternatives to the face-to-face. I happen to agree with this. For most (nearly all) the traditional didactic lecture is so much the right way to educate that it isn't even worth debating. Currently, learning technologies have to fit in around these face-to-face events which are a pegs to hand our education onto. It's a fit that can work but often doesn't. However, this approach makes things more difficult than they need to be. Of course, face-to-face has value. But start off thinking of all your tools on an equal footing not with one on a higher plane.

The discussion described the performance involved in giving a lecture. I have a hunch that this is an important element for many educators. Why be receptive to different teaching methods if we like you already do? Put bluntly, some like the sound of their own voice too much. There, I said it. But how can you challenge that? Not easily for sure.

I've said in previous posts how important it is to educate the educators in learning technologies. One good idea from this discussion is to give them a reason to use it in their real lives, e.g. an aggregator for their news, and they will naturally start thinking about their teaching once this is embedded.

No comments:

Post a Comment