I read with interest the column about the use of technology in the classroom. It seems to me that technology is neither good nor bad but a tool that can be used to aid or hinder learning. Both student and professor must be willing to use it to enhance the educational experience and not employ it as a distraction.
It is also important to look at the roles the professor and the student play in the learning experience. As a professor, it is my job to present material in an engaging way so my students can learn. The problem is that not every student connects in the same way. Many of us try to use a variety of methods, but there will be days our chosen method(s) will not reach every student.
However, if my method on any given day does not reach everyone, I do not think that is an excuse for the student to check email or surf the web.
The student also has a role in the learning process. It is the student’s job to come to class prepared and alert. I would also encourage students to examine their expectations of the learning process. Some students have told me that I am not entertaining enough. I am a professor and not an entertainer, so if I am expected to entertain rather than teach, I am doomed from the start.
I am one of the professors who ask that students take notes by hand, turn off their computers and phones, and put them away unless a day’s class plan requires all of us to be online. In addition to learning content, I want my students to learn interpersonal skills. You can best learn those skills by becoming involved with the teacher and your classmates — without distracting technology.
These interpersonal skills are as important as critical thinking, good writing or complex content. We all must master these to communicate effectively in the workplace and at home. To prepare our students for lives of purpose, service and leadership, I must teach them how to listen, share and interact.
In closing, I hope that all of us will use technology appropriately, and we will also recognize our role in the teaching and learning process. It is not all about content. The interactional process may be the most important thing learned.
Dr. Emily Scott-Lowe,
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