Bad Technology

So despite the apparent awesomeness of electronic tools in higher education, it turns out a lot of professors don’t really do a good job using interactive tools in college course. Sure they use technology in class but they use it kind of the way your grandmother uses Facebook. Ineptly.

Perhaps professors need help learning how to use technology. Or maybe they should just stop trying.

According to an article by Nick DeSantis in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a study of community college professors found that,

Most professors relied on text-based assignments and materials. In the instances when professors did decide to use interactive tools like online video, many of those technologies were not connected to learning objectives, the study found.

Nikki Edgecombe, a senior research associate at Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, called the apparent mismatch between technologies and learning objectives an “optimization” problem. When professors did choose to put elements like YouTube videos into their courses, the student experience felt “like faculty were compelled to use more, instead of asking why,” Ms. Edgecombe said.

Institutions should focus on training instructors to use tools that best fit the objectives of their specific courses, Ms. Edgecombe said.

Um, maybe. Or perhaps we should think about this fad a little more seriously. What is the technology there to do?

If the community college instructors (who by the way are poorly paid and mostly don’t enjoy benefits) are only using extra technology in their courses because they’re “compelled to use more [technology]” and they don’t really do it in a way that makes sense, perhaps the solution is not “training instructors to use tools that best fit the objectives of their specific courses.”

Maybe the solution is using less technology. In fact, it’s not just some community college professors who don’t use technology effectively. Actually most professors don’t like to use technology in the classroom.

What’s wrong with text-based assignments and materials? It’s college. Maybe I’m missing something but aren’t books the point?

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer