A vision of students today --
I have seen this video before, and came across it again today. I thought I would share it here because it relates to the issue of significance in teaching/learning. The week 9 topic of the instructional use of video has caused me to reflect on significance a lot. I also read an article by Michael Wesch that challenged me to consider the lack of significance in many of our traditional approaches to education today.
The use of video in the classroom…this idea has been around for quite awhile. I watched plenty of videos when I was in school (elementary and high school). Sometimes we got to watch movies as a reward for other work; sometimes we watched videos to learn class content; sometimes we watched videos just to be doing something. As a teacher myself, I have often used videos when teaching.
Sometimes I have used videos to fill in content gaps; sometimes I have used videos to grab students’ attention; sometimes, I admit, I have looked for a video that would take the place of lesson planning for a day. Videos can be a powerful tool, but, just like everything else, they can be used in ways that do not contribute to significance.
I was recently talking to my cousin, who is eagerly approaching his college graduation. He has been a student for a long time and is now finishing up by taking a full load of 19 credit hours. He talked to me about feeling frustrated, sitting in class listening to a professor read from a powerpoint presentation. Why, he wondered, can’t the professor send the powerpoint to students via email, making it available for them to watch on their own time? What is the purpose of attending a class session anyway? He was intrigued and very interested by online learning opportunities that might allow him some flexibility.
Then, I read a short article by Dian Shauffhauser, who shared about the use of streaming video for class lectures. Some instructors are offering these to students as an alternative to attending class lectures. Students seem to respond very positively to this. Why, I wondered, is this not available to more students? As an online student of three years now, I don’t know if I would have the patience to sit in a traditional classroom anymore.
All of this led me to consider that instructors (of which I am one) need to evaluate the goals of each educational endeavor and choose the tools that best meet those goals. If students can get necessary course content from sources other than a class lecture, what is the purpose of still having class lectures? If students do come to class, what will happen there that will be significant? If nothing significant, then it seems to me that we are wasting everyone’s time. What needs to happen within the walls of a traditional classroom (or within the parameters of an online environment) in order to make it a significant, relevant event? If I use a video, what is my rationale for doing so? What can be accomplished with a video that cannot be accomplished any other way?
Learning … this is the goal of education. Videos can be a powerful tool to assist our learning. But, let’s not use them simply because they are available. I, for one, hope to take advantage of some resources I learned about this week that can assist me in my home schooling efforts. But, I still need to consider my goals and how a particular video can help in accomplishing those. This is the constant tension…one that empowers me to strive for meaningful learning. Significance is critical. In the midst of so many useful tools, the ultimate goal remains the same…..LEARNING!
Michael Wesch, Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance." Education Canada 48(2):4-7. Jan 2008. http://www.scribd.com/doc/6358393/AntiTeaching-Confronting-the-Crisis-of-Significance
Dian Schaffhauser (2010, September 15). College Students on Streaming Video: Get Me Outta Class! Campus Technology. http://campustechnology.com/articles/2010/09/15/college-students-on-streaming-video-get-me-outta-class.aspx