An Interesting Epoch
While teaching and learning hasn’t changed much since we came down from the trees, the tools that we use to engage in the same definitely have and I feel that we’re in a unique time in history.
Lots of people who are instructors grew up in a time when tools didn’t change that much, new tools weren’t really added as quickly and in the same quantity that they aretoday.
I’ve heard many people say that ‘we teach the way we were taught’, and to that I would argue that is a disservice to our students. For generations before technology started to pick up its pace, this was a valid idea, teaching by example, but the example set by my instructors in the late 1990s is not the same example that is set by my instructors today, or even way back in the mid 2000’s. To assume that our instruction should be modeled on a period when overhead projectors and chalk boards were still in use is the same as saying you’d rather have a trepanning than brain surgery.
The ways in which learners expose themselves to information these days is a great opportunity to leverage existing technologies that are easy and free to access.
As an instructor, why would I lecture or assign readings from $100 books when the same information is available for free online? Sure, we have experts editing these books and compiling information, but what happened to the idea that instructors were experts in their fields? I’ve encountered a few instructors over the years who forgot this fact — they actually didn’t feel comfortable writing their own material because they were so tied to that holy of holies: the textbook. I am an expert, otherwise I wouldn’t be teaching, and I do have the ability to curate existing content and expose that content to my students. There might be a few things I need to amend or add to, but overall, it’s all out there. The internet wasn’t invented for us NOT to use.
The best lesson I ever learned about modern education is that classroom time should only be used for activities that couldn’t happen anywhere else. The opportunity to have students interact with each other and practice their emerging craft cannot happen when they’re at home, or on vacation, it can only happen in the classroom. They can read their books or other readings at home. They can even discuss the readings and ask questions of the instructor from home, and many do. Class time is a unique opportunity that should not be wasted by boring our students with videos they could have watched at home, or things they could have read on the bus. When students get together, they should be practicing application of their knowledge and becoming closer to experts in their own rights.
This concept is called Flip or Inverse Teaching. See if it can work for you.