Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tilting at Windmills, Vol. 1, No. 5

The Past in the Present: A Walden University Blog Post

Well, the dawn was coming
Heard him ringing on my bell
He said, "My name's the teacher
That is what I call myself"
"And I have a lesson
That I must impart to you
It's an old expression
But I must insist it's true"

As we close out the last course together let us consider what we are. We are teachers. It does not matter what technology we use or what field we teach in. We are teachers. Earlier in the course we heard a professor mention that lecture was over 800 years old. He was referring to the first university established in the Western World, the University of Bologna. It was established in 1088 with Paris, Oxford, and Modena being established in the same time period. So lecture has been around for a very long time and predates textbooks.

            For that matter, textbooks really are relatively modern developments brought about by the development of technology, in this case the printing press. So with the textbook in such widespread use in education is it any surprise that some teachers embrace technology to assist them with their teaching? After all, is that not what a textbook does? Since there is so much resistance to technology, it makes me wonder if there was any resistance to the use of the textbook when they first made their way into academia? Knowing teachers, I am willing to bet on it.
            In fact, looking up textbook in Wikipedia, I see Socrates was complaining about writing down
knowledge instead of orally transmitting it like it had been for centuries. I love the line “Ironically, we know about Socrates' concerns only because they were written down by his student Plato in his famous Dialogues.” Truly a sense of humor by whoever put this entry into the website. What this indicates to me is the resistance to change inherent in the academic profession. Today’s dinosaurs are plodding along just like their ancestors on the road to extinction. They are lining up to die out as Educational Darwinism begins to sweep across higher ed. The inability to accept technological change is only part of the reason they will be extinct. See Michael Stratford’s “A Path to Debt-Free” in June 11, 2015’s Inside Higher Ed here

            Change is coming to higher ed whether it wants it or not. Who will survive? Who will go the way of the dinosaurs? Yet, despite all the change, the profession is still the same. Go back to the Jethro Tull lyrics at the beginning of this post. It is about teaching. “Old man, what’s the plan, what was that you said? It does not matter what technology we use, we are still teaching students. We may use a different pedagogical model, but we are still teaching students. 

            My fellow students in their blogs have brought up different technologies and andragogies. I considered the various technologies mentioned in this course and the two that stood out to me where Sharon’s mention of wikis and everyone who liked and talked about social media.  I think the concept of mobile technology is so obvious there is no need to go into it. The other two were ones that I did put into my own teaching thanks to you, my fellow teachers, writing about it. Despite some stumbles we have used both in the classroom and the students are embracing them. Without your discussions, I might not have picked on how to use them.

             As for andragogy, I think this is hilarious. We have all influenced each other for about two years now. I think it would be fair to say that each of us has changed our approach to teaching as a result of this program and what we have learned from it. I cannot pinpoint any single thing because there are so many of them. I love the flipped classroom so much I changed my courses to it. I have learned how to use games in the classroom and believe it or not, I avoided technology to do that. The funny thing is the idea for gaming in classes is something I always wanted to do. I learned how it could be fun and engaging in high school 33 years ago. I just needed to learn how to use it within a pedagogical model to make it work. But those are just two concepts out of many.

            I think I will end this with some more lyrics from Jethro Tull’s “Teacher.” If I ever teach education classes I think I will use this song for inspiration. We are the teacher in the song. To the student it seems like we’re having all the fun. Okay, we are, but we put a lot of work into the class so that it would be fun. Then at the end we say thank you to the student for buying our ticket. I think the student is left wondering what just went on, but I get the feeling the student realizes why the teacher is the teacher and having fun. He has been there as the student before. 

Then the teacher told me
It had been a lot of fun
Thanked me for his ticket
And all that I had done

For us, the role of student is now over. It is time to be the Teacher. 

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