Friday, July 31, 2009

tt4t_094 Teaching Naked, No Thanks

It’s Friday, July 31st, 2009 and welcome to episode 94 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. It is the last day of July and you know what that means. Tomorrow marks the beginning of August and that means that the first day of school cannot be far away. For those of us in the northern hemisphere and particularly the United States many of us will be heading back to school for that first day of the fall term in August.

To listen click on the Play button >

Download MP3

Please remember that many staff, particularly technology staff, never left. Summer-time is a time for upgrading machines and systems during the so-called slow time of summer. This cycle has gradually been compressed over the years so that there really is no slow time for support personnel anymore. It is also becoming more common for teachers to work throughout the summer as there are many summer school programs across the US.

Upgrading T-1, DS-3, and other network connections is becoming a necessity for schools across the nation. As we rely more upon technology the underlying infrastructure must be updated to keep up with the demand. This work often is invisible, that is until something goes wrong with the network! Be sure to thank your technology staff that work very hard at providing the networking infrastructure that makes possible all of the magical learning technologies that we enjoy today without giving it a second thought. When we click on a link we expect it to work, to work fast, and thankfully the large majority of the time it does.

Of course things do not always work as planned or work as fast as we would like. In that case all good teachers have that Plan B in their back pocket. If the technology is not working the show must go on. This flexibility is a must for anyone teaching today. At our university every one of our classrooms is what we call a Technology Enhanced Classroom. All classrooms are equipped with a high-speed Internet connection, computer, projector, and most have document cameras and Smart Boards. Our college started this TEC project back in 1999 and ten years later this equipment is an expected part of our classrooms just as much as student seating.

From time to time a projector bulb does burn out or we experience network connection or computer problems but for the most part out TEC’s function as designed. We do have work arounds for most common problems like loaning a projector or laptop to a classroom if some of the equipment is not working properly. This is an inconvenience but certainly not the end of the world.

Some faculty seem to be more adept at rolling with the punches than others when things do go wrong. What type of faculty member are you? Do you have a Plan B? I have witnessed some faculty pack up their bags and stop teaching when something technological goes wrong. What kind of message does that send to our students? Can you teach without the crutch of technology?

Speaking of technological crutches there is a recent article that has been going around teaching circles the past couple of weeks from the Chronicle of Higher Education called Teach Naked, a link is provided in the show notes.

Teach Naked Article - When Computers Leave Classrooms, So Does Boredom

By Teach Naked the author advocates taking all of the technology out of the classroom. It seems his real issue is with PowerPoint. It is an interesting article and worth a read and a discussion with teaching staff.

I have also provided a link to an article over at AcademicHack that is a counter-point that is also worth reading.

On what would it really mean to teach naked.

My viewpoint coming from a teacher preparation institution is that we are long past the PowerPoint argument. Many teaching programs have adopted constructivist teaching practices long ago (two decades) that makes the non-interactive PowerPoint model of delivery look like the horse and buggy days. In fact I would argue that we are now at a time in the teaching and learning evolution where digital technologies are such a part of todays student learning that adding a fourth type of learning modality called digital is needed in addition to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

The end lesson however remains that teachers must mix it up and use ALL of the different learning styles to be most effective in producing learning results. What is the best way to teach? There are many!

What do you think? I would love to hear your position in this discussion so please leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog, remember, we have the technology and we can use it! ;)

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, relying solely on technology in the classroom is just as extreme as relying on no technology in the classroom. The author of the Teach Naked article is no Luddite and does promote the use of technology outside the classroom by advocating those boring PowerPoint lectures be podcasted and consumed outside of classtime and keeping classrooms as low-tech zones. So we are going to take the boring stuff and turn it into a podcast? Hmmm.

Funny how we in education have long been criticized for teaching in 19th Century classrooms and now there is criticism for teaching in high-tech classrooms. Welcome to public education where there are many opinions and often no one right answer that pleases opposing views. Nothing like a provocative title to capture peoples interest.

The technology available today is here to stay and is being used to benefit the learning experience, the argument is not as simple as removing technology from the classroom but rather in the methods employed during the learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom.

One last comment about the article, what happens when there is no classroom? Many are already there and have been for some time.

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is for the elementary level and can be used with or without a Smart Board but it works great with an interactive white board (IWB). The name of this weeks pick is called Stop the Clock and is an excellent interactive site where the goal is to match the correct digital time to each analog clock. It is interesting to note that we are living in times where many elementary level students may not have ever seen an analog clock. A link is in the show notes.

Stop the Clock

This is an excellent example of where interactivity engages the student in learning the content with immediate feedback and also encourages the student to do the activity quickly as there is a competition component for the student that can solve the clock matching activity the fastest.

If you teach elementary level students and are doing a unit on time this year give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

That wraps it up for episode 94 of TechTalk4Teachers. Transcripts and show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the Eastern Illinois University Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you have questions, comments or suggestions please send an email to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

No comments: