We Need More EdTech, But Less Technology In The Classroom
August 26, 2013
At the risk of over generalizing, I’ll name two kinds of knowledge that seem more easily and efficiently disseminated using online tools. I’ll term them “edutainment” and “data-fiables.”
Usually, the term “edutainment” refers to content that’s meant to both educate and entertain.
But I use the term differently (if you think every professor isn’t trying to both educate and entertain, you’re kidding yourself. Nobody wants to deliver a boring lecture).
I use “edutainment” to refer to the kind of knowledge that is both deliverable and consumable.
Powerpoint presentations, Ted talks, and even the old fashioned university lecture would all be included in this category. This is the kind of knowledge that is objectified.
With the term “data-fiable,” I refer to something I only barely understand. This is the kind of knowledge that algorithmic geeks excel with, the stuff that’s easily understood as data. Not only the facts that can be Googled, but also the things that Google GOOG +0.02%’s back end evaluates using analytics and metrics. This is the kind of knowledge that lends itself to algorithms. This includes ways of knowing that can be automated and quantified. This is what we measure with standardized tests. This is the kind of knowledge that technocrats would have us believe to be unbiasedly objective. And it may be objective.
Instead, the humanities classroom is the place where I facilitate Socratic dialogue, imagination, emotional connection, and metaphor’s ability to bring forth meaning through poesis.
These things are not edutainment nor datafiable.
Just as Google’s predictive dialogue box has forced me to reconsider the essence of human intuition (after all, according to ordinary definitions, Google has better intuition than any human) …
As a result, I’ve flipped, or blended, my university classroom. I’ve moved everything that can be more efficiently disseminated through smart phones, tablets, and personal computers to the digital realm.
Rather than lecture, I make videos and podcasts.
Rather than wasting face-to-face time with slideshows full of bullet points of facts, I email the Powerpoints.
There are plenty of social tools that enable real communication through the web, albeit asynchronous.
I’m working hard to figure out how to use these tools for interaction.
Online, I certainly can’t teach students to verbally articulate complex arguments.
Nor can I teach them through conversational debate.
But I can teach them to think critically about online texts and to express themselves articulately in writing.