Friday, April 1st, 2011...3:58 pm

Trends & Challenges in Educational Technology

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There is essentially one reason why I was so excited to attend EDUCAUSE’s Midwest Regional Conference in March: the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Michael Wesch.

With the beauty of YouTube and TED talks, I can share the keynote presentation with you, albeit in a shorter form.

TEDxKC Michael Wesch From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able

Wesch focuses on the effects of social media and digital technology on society. Being an educator, he often concentrates on how this is changing the worldview of college students. I think law schools are behind in catering to new ways of teaching and learning. Law School is traditional. The modern world of education is becoming less so.

There are several trends  from the conference. I chose a top 5.

1) Twitter. Twitter isn’t just for celebrities. This is the 3rd conference where I’ve tweeted the conference. Below is a Wordle of the conference tweets. (#MWRC11). There was an intense amount of conversation on the Twitter back channel.  Through this back channel, many of us discussed the utility of using Twitter in class as a way for students to discuss (class related) things during class. Many undergraduate professors use this tactic already. Would this tactic work in highly Socratic classrooms?

2) Pedagogy. Being an educator of educators, I sometimes have difficulty not telling faculty how they should teach. My job is about arming faculty with tools to educate themselves and their students.  To meet the needs of the modern students, many faculty will need to rethink their teaching methods. This will be a challenge.

3) Technology. Along this line, students (even law students) are armed with tools to educate themselves.  Faculty complain of students using laptops too much in the classroom. Despite studies suggesting the useful nature of laptops in learning,  laptops have been banned.   I’ve discovered is that debunking the myths of technology use in the classroom is not enough to get faculty or students willing to try something new. I’ve found that finding a solution to a problem and in turn, supporting that solution works better. The mere use of technology is not the solution to problems in teaching and learning.

4) Students want the opportunity to learn with new tools – as long as those tools have a purpose in their learning. Technology shouldn’t hinder a learner’s learning or a teacher’s teaching. The challenge is to not overwhelm the students with tools – where students spend more time learning the tools than learning the subject. Students want faculty to use course management systems effectively- but using the CMS isn’t enough.

5) Mobile Use. Other than the words “Social Media” I think I heard the words “mobile” the most. Mobile learning is on the rise. Most Course Management systems have come out with Mobile Apps if not Mobile sites.  Law schools with a large commuter population might do well to get in to mobile learning early to help with access.

So where do these trends and questions leave law schools? Do we embrace the change and force our faculty and students into a new mold – or do we hide from the change and teach the law the way it has been taught for decades?

More Resources:

Michael Wesch’s Youtube Channel

Educause Website

GOOD Education

1 Comment

  • re: Twitter & the Socratic classroom – strictly speaking, Twitter would not work. If the Socratic classroom involves cold calls to random students, how can a back-channel be effectively instituted?

    Now that I’ve played the “take things too literally” game, I personally do think that Twitter and a back-channel in general can be extremely useful. A class could learn more…but it could also get distracted. What might be interesting to the faculty (the more open-minded ones, I admit – point #2) is to look at the hash tag cloud and see what points came up the most. Perhaps there is something that the students really aren’t understanding, or the item tweeted about the most wasn’t the point of the lecture.

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