I recently attended and presented at the NC3ADL Distance Learning Conference. It was great to see my old friends and colleagues at the Raleigh Convention Center especially since I retired from full time teaching and distance learning administration at Carteret Community College.
One thing that struck me while attending one of the conference sessions was just how many amazing and powerful digital tools and applications we as educators have at our disposal for delivering (teaching) our courses compared to 20-30 years ago. The digital (internet) age has changed (impacted) education at all levels dramatically.
The question I have is… are we graduating smarter more prepared students because of all these new, powerful and sophisticated instructional tools and applications? I hate to admit it, however, I would have to say no if I were to base my answer on my personal experiences as an online educator. Students and teachers now have access to endless amounts of information with a click of the mouse, more than any time in human history. Is this seamless and easy access making us smarter? Is it making us better teachers? Is it making our students smarter and more prepared for viable careers after they graduate? Are all the technological tools, applications, systems, networks and sophisticated software making the educational experience better and more effective than 20-30 years ago? I think this is a conversation we as educators need to be having.
Could the inundation of information and digital tools like cell phones, laptops, tablets and IPads and IPods make us more distracted and possibly overwhelmed to the point where we can’t possibly process the vast amount of data and information coming at us from commercial, political, and educational realms.
Speaking for myself I feel somewhat overwhelmed by the constant flow of digital content coming at me from morning to night. I teach exclusively online and incorporate a wide array of instructional material into my online classes. Everything from podcasts, screencasts, instructional videos, graphics, animations, and text based content. Teaching and learning in 2013 is so incredibly different than it was back in the 1950′s, 60′s and even into the 80′s before the computer and the internet.
Students now have the same access to information their instructors have. Is it now the teachers role to help students decipher this information, make sense of it and put it into context? The roles and relationships between teachers and students is certainly changing (evolving) and have been for the past 15 years.
I personally think there are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the state of education in America. We certainly spend more than any other country on schools, colleges and education in general. I’m just not convinced we are getting the best bang for our buck and I wonder if we could be doing a better job with the incredibly powerful instructional tools and applications we have at our disposal as educators in the digital realm.
Could it possibly be that the technology could possibly be getting in the way and/or inhibiting the process of learning? I see many students struggling to stay focused on one learning activity (task) because he/she is distracted by checking facebook, texting or surfing the internet. There may be more to this than we as educators think and we may have to come up with new and creative strategies for dealing with and addressing these issues. Just sayin…..
Here is the world education ranking for 2012. USA dropped to 17th in developed countries. Finland and South Korea kicked out butts! Can’t we do better than this?