Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Teaching naked

Ok, now I've got your attention I want to introduce you to an interesting approach advocated by Jose Bowen, a dean as Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He's advocating a different use of technology in learning and teaching by taking the technology out of the classroom and using it to help students prepare for lessons. Lessons themselves are then places of interaction where the human element of teaching can be maximised.

I found out about Jose listening to an npr podcast over the weekend. The concept speaks to my heart because I feel people should always be at the heart of technology. The question should always be what does the student/teacher need, then technology can be used to provide or facilitate the answer. So a constant innovation in ideas is what's needed. Instead all that's happened with new tech is electronic versions of old approaches such as powerpoint slides to replace overhead projectors, electronic whiteboards to replace chalk and blackboards.

Jose focuses on getting students to engage and participate in their learning. Providing games and podcasts to encourage them to interact and explore concepts. The line in the podcast that got me convinced was when Jose talked about the Jazz games he uses. Students are able to layer melodies from different Jazz legends and explore the results for themselves. The point is not to make perfect music but to understand the different styles in greater depth by comparison and contrast. By getting involved yourself you notice subtleties and gain understanding that you can't just from listening to a lecture.

Fascinating stuff. I hope this idea gains ground. It's benefits are obvious to me. It's about making lesson time more valuable as a chance to interactive with others in a way only humans can. Use tech outside to get up to speed quickly in a way that suits you. Find out easily what's happening, updates etc via instant messaging, chat, email and forums. Explore the subject in video(youtube etc), audio(podcast), text (rss) or anything else you can find. Then get together in a room with other people and discuss what you've all found.

Sounds like a great way to learn.
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