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Education

How Students Are 'Evolving' With Technology 249

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the growing-tinfoil-hats dept.
Scott Jaschik writes "A new study explores how "digital natives" (today's college students) have changing technology habits — and how those habits have infiltrated the classroom. What does that mean for professors and their teaching methods?"
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How Students Are 'Evolving' With Technology

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  • Note taking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arrow_Raider (1157283) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:45AM (#20636305)
    Maybe it's just me, but I've tried taking notes on my laptop before and I just didn't retain the information as well as when I physically write notes with paper and pencil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jhutch2000 (801707)
      The biggest problem I saw was that the tap-tap of typing is extremely annoying, especially in smaller class sizes (granted in a huge lecture hall, the general noise of the room drowned it out).

      • by Sparr0 (451780)
        Then get a keyboard that doesnt go 'tap-tap'? Pretend you are typing on the surface of your desk... There are plenty of keyboards *AT LEAST* that quiet, some virtually silent.
        • by PitaBred (632671)
          And there are even some that are EXACTLY that quiet: laser keyboards [virtual-la...yboard.com] :) (I have no connection with the company, it's just the first result that came up in Google)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by webax (1034218)
      I finished school a couple years ago now, at that time the kid who brought a laptop to every class was called "laptop", and it wasn't the most endearing nickname.

      My girlfriend is still in school now though, and the majority of her pre-med program class bring their laptops to class. The most interesting thing is that professors seem to be required to provide their lecture notes as a type of powerpoint presentation. Students open the powerpoint and follow along with the teacher typing notes into the file

      • Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by everphilski (877346) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:09AM (#20636661) Journal
        The only subject I have trouble seeing easily transferable to an electronic form without some form of tablet would be math and engineering subjects which require extensive equations. There is no good standard equation editor that can create and manipulate formulas nearly as fast as can be done by hand afaik. (Although LaTeX equations do look a whole lot better than by hand once you get all the symbols in the right place.)

        As an engineer I stuck to desktop computers, took notes on paper, until this year. I have a Ph.D., and my comittee consists of a colleague at work, my advisor at school, and me doing work at both work and school and home. So I broke down and I use it for research, but I still take paper notes. You just can't effectively do a free body diagram on a notebook...
        • by PitaBred (632671)
          What about a Tablet PC? I'll bet you could use one in a normal laptop style, and then draw out the diagrams on the screen as needed...
        • You just can't effectively do a free body diagram on a notebook...

          That's literally exactly why I got a Tablet PC (I'm a civil engineering student). It works about as well as paper, but would be a lot better if some purpose-built software existed (imagine drawing a free body and having the software straighten out your lines, or even analyze and draw the deformed shape for you!).

          • GD and matlab for teh win!

            I convinced one of my teachers to wear a mic and train my speech software, in exchange I gave him paper copies of all his lectures.
            Also, in the same class a few of my mates and I made a morse code buzzer where the key was in the toe of a shoe and the buzzer was a (heavily) modified pager on vibrate. The collision detection was by human brain, but it worked very very well. We showed our prof (no one in my group needed to cheat to ace the class anyway) and he though it was so creat
      • It's not all that hard to take notes in engineering classes on a standard laptop and it's easier to do with a tablet than in a paper notebook. Equations aren't that bad to type if you have a decent formula editor such as is in OpenOffice.org Writer, but yeah, it'd suck if you used MS Equation Editor.
    • by masdog (794316)
      I found that I did better in classes where I used my laptop to take notes. I remembered more, had an easier time sharing, and didn't have to try deciphering my own writing.

      But there were only a few classes where I actually did that...most professors thought I was taking notes when I was really playing the Sims or surfing the net.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Perhaps, but why should other students in your classes suffer? Laptops in the classroom are just obnoxious if the people with them are doing anything more than keeping up with powerpoint slides, and even that isn't the most useful as the cost of a proper projector has come down in price quite a bit over the last number of years.

        It does seem to me that using a computer really isn't a replacement for learning to write legibly. I can guarantee you that there isn't going to be an innovation in the near future w
        • by masdog (794316)
          Perhaps, but why should other students in your classes suffer? Laptops in the classroom are just obnoxious if the people with them are doing anything more than keeping up with powerpoint slides, and even that isn't the most useful as the cost of a proper projector has come down in price quite a bit over the last number of years.

          But it wasn't just for keeping up with powerpoint slides. I had a lot of professors who used blackboard and chalk. When I used my laptop the way it was meant to be used, it all
    • Re:Note taking (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:01AM (#20636537)
      I use a Tablet PC/Notebook hybrid =D

      All benefits of handwritten note plus ultimate storeage, organization, and the ability to copy/paste large swaths of repeated information and to resize/reshape/duplicate graphs and tables. Built-in microphone is starting to get use, too. Its nice to be able to hear a lecture over again encase I missed important info during note taking.
    • by garcia (6573)
      Maybe it's just me, but I've tried taking notes on my laptop before and I just didn't retain the information as well as when I physically write notes with paper and pencil.

      Starting in 7th grade up through current time, I would take notes in pencil and then transcript those notes to an electronic medium for both permanent archival (I still have the notes from 7th grade although WP 5.1 files are difficult to open these days ;)) and reinforcement of the notes. I found it was much easier to look back through m
    • I'm not a student anymore, but I'm a bit of a digital-age kid, so I'll still offer my thoughts. For me, it has always been a bit of a trade-off. If I type, I can't draw little pictures and arrows all over the place. But if I use a notebook, I can't read my own writing. I grew up typing instead of writing, and my handwriting is horrible if I'm scribbling quick notes.

      My solution has been to write notes in a notebook, and then as soon as I get a chance, I review my notes in front of a computer, typing the

    • Maybe it's just me, but I've tried taking notes on my laptop before and I just didn't retain the information as well as when I physically write notes with paper and pencil.

      All depends on the person. I type 120wpm so note-taking is typically easier when I type. Of course, drawing diagrams is a bitch. I typically find that I retain less if I'm taking notes, be it typing or longhand. It's too distracting when i do that sort of thing, prevents me from seriously paying attention to what the instructor is saying. But in general, I suck at lecture instruction, puts me right to sleep. I suck at math, suck suck suck. I've always been a C student there, even when it's "easy" math. Had

      • And in my opinion, anyone who claims to be a university graduate should be required to take and understand calculus.

        Calculus is a 400 year old math discipline, and regarded as a requirement for a classical education (something in which we have forgotten). One should also take philosophy and review the works of Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Euclid, and other Greek people.

        Yet, now we barely focus on what topic of study we choose, and not much else. I'm sure the American joke has been told: What are you called
        • And in my opinion, anyone who claims to be a university graduate should be required to take and understand calculus.

          Calculus is a 400 year old math discipline, and regarded as a requirement for a classical education (something in which we have forgotten). One should also take philosophy and review the works of Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Euclid, and other Greek people.

          Yet, now we barely focus on what topic of study we choose, and not much else. I'm sure the American joke has been told: What are you called if you only speak 1 language? American.
          --

          You can lead a man to culture but you can't make him think. Yes, Calculus is a useful thing. So is linear algebra and differential equations. You know what else? Animal husbandry was key to the development of civilization. So let's make everyone learn how to breed cows as part of a classical education. Hmm, doesn't make as much sense now, does it? Just because something is useful to know in a given subject does not mean that people outside of the subject have to be familiar with it. For example, in compute

        • by Don853 (978535)
          My girlfriend did a semester abroad (from the US) at U of Nottingham studying Chemical Engineering. She came back with the impression that the American schools, at least for someone pursuing an engineering degree, have liberal arts requirements than Nottingham didn't. There it was considered strange that she was taking a humanities class on the side of the ChemE curriculum. I don't know if this is typical of European Universities or not. I tend to agree, in general, that students should get as broad an
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zen_sky (1157991)
      That's because your first learning experiences were with "pencil and paper". Most of our brains get hardwired with the initial learning context. I know it is almost impossible for me to learn without holding something in my hands. This applies to most college students as well. The real digital generation grew up with the *internet*, not random gadgets. I have a nephew that memorized and was typing in his (long, ugly) game url's since he was 4, before he could write. He is now 11 and at school he was having
    • I used to take notes by hand, then the first thing I did when I got back to my apt was to type them into the computer. This process did wonders for me -- I barely had to study for tests at all.
    • by LuYu (519260)

      Maybe it is just me, but I always thought note taking was a distraction keeping my attention on writing and away from what the professor was actually saying.

      In any case, this is all irrelevant. Now that it is possible, do professors actually have any excuse not to give full compressed video, audio, text, and even slides or any other supplementary materials from every lecture they give? A single TA could compile all this material in a single semester, and it would be ready for all future students. I

    • by oliphaunt (124016)
      It must be nice to be able to read your own handwriting three months later. I can't. And never mind that I can type essentially as fast as my profs can speak. My handwriting speed can't possibly keep up.

      But if it works for you...
  • AntiSocial society (Score:5, Interesting)

    by packetmon (977047) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:52AM (#20636399) Homepage
    You know, I love technology and all that it has done and is continuing to do, but I'm also starting to feel that technology is making a large portion of society very antisocial. When I was younger I used to enjoy going to the library, playing in the park etc., nowadays I see a huge portion of younger people skipping the libraries in favor of wikipedia or finding it online. Same goes for interaction, say dating... Why should someone head to a bar, coffeeshop, the laundrymat to meet someone when they could find it online. Alot of interaction has gone down the tubes and while it may be nice to think of an "e-classroom" of the future, I'd be pretty pissed if I couldn't clown around in person as opposed to faking smiles behind a screen. Screw that give me some dirty smelly kids, jokes, teachers throwing chalk at me versus a "digital classroom"
    • by crgrace (220738)
      I'm with you Packetmon. I got through a demanding program in Electrical Engineering in the 90s without owning a computer. I used the UNIX terminals in the engineering building for homework, and used the Mac lab to write my papers. Saved me a lot of money, and got me out of the dorm. Nowadays everyone has a personal laptop. I wonder if the students work alone more.

      Carl
    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:01AM (#20636535) Homepage

      I agree, which is something I find rather amusing considering the huge number of people using "social" networking sites, making "friends" on MySpace, etc.

      There is a lot to be said about a digital classroom at a certain point. It can be great in many college classes. I am highly against the "shove computers into higg/middle/elementary schools" movement. I've been in those schools, I know just how poorly they get used. Instead of something good the kids get "How to use Word" (not how to use a word processor). "How to type". "How to make a PowerPoint presentation". Some bits of this are useful (especially typing) but these are being taught not as means to an end, but the end its self.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pthor1231 (885423)
      What were you doing being social in the library? I thought the whole point of them was to actually get away from distractions and be able to concentrate? In all seriousness though, just because someone isn't being social the exact same way you were doesn't necessarily make them anti social people. I honestly would never go to a laundromat to meet someone, partially because I never had the need to, but also because I just don't think thats a great way to meet someone I would have a lot in common with. So
    • by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:10AM (#20636675) Homepage
      On the same token, I'm glad for all this technology because I'm no longer forced to interact with other people unless I particularly want to. (And, incidentally, isn't it a little creepy, trying to meet people at the landromat?)
      • I wouldn't think it was creepy meeting someone at the laundromat. Presumably you're there at about the same time every week or every other week, so you're going to meet people that have about the same schedule you do (and wash at least some of their clothes THEMSELVES on a regular basis- which we ladies consider a serious bonus). After you've seen them for a couple of weeks running, they're not total strangers, and you're going to be stuck in the same room for about an hour anyway. You can start a conversat
    • by kebes (861706) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:17AM (#20636797) Journal
      Actually I see some technological trends in the opposite direction. Sites like Facebook enable people to be connected to each other more quickly and pervasively than ever before. Organizing events is easier. Photos from parties get posted and commented on within hours of the party ending! Keeping in touch with old friends is now so much easier than it used to be. I actually think that this increases socialization for many people. In particular, those on the "more awkward" end of the normal distribution (e.g. "geeks" and "nerds") now have an easier time of becoming socially connected (both online and offline). Sometimes it can actually be a bad thing, of course--people are spending time socializing online (and planning more offline social activities), which can disrupt other pursuits (e.g. learning!).

      With regard to the library... I've never thought of the library as a social-hub. In general, for every hour that is saved by using a more efficient online resource, instead of walking to the library, that's an hour that can be spent doing something else (e.g. learning something new or hanging out with friends).

      So, I'm not at all convinced that this technology is making people anti-social. For every anti-social anecdote I've seen, I've also seen instances where the technology is drawing people closer together, and helping forge friendships. Humans are social animals. Technology can't change that--if anything, it reinforces it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      By your own examples the technology isn't causing people to become antisocial. Its simply changing where the socialization happens. Those that are uncomfortable with change will of course have a wide range of reactions including mild discomfort and proclaiming all new technology to be the work of the devil.
    • Alot of interaction has gone down the tubes...

      I don't think you realized the alternative meaning there, but I found it amusing.

  • by TheEdge757 (1157503) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:54AM (#20636423) Journal
    I consider myself an early adopter and a person who's generally always interested in finding a competetive advantage, but one thing is for sure: when it comes to studying, I like to have something tactile in my hands. It's almost as though interacting with a paper medium is easier to deal with then a digital medium, and through that interaction I tend to learn more. It's why I've printed out all the Powerepoint slides to class and write on the slides in longhand rather then add notes on the actual slides themselves. I'm not sure if that's something that will eventuially change as people start becoming more exposed to computers at an early age, but I do believe that in my generation (college) people still generally prefer to have a non-digital medium for actual learning. I've rarely run into anyone who would rather read a digital textbook then have some sort of physical document/book in their hands.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      There are plenty of studies that have been done to show that

      A) Certain people learn better in certain ways. http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp [vark-learn.com]

      B) The atmosphere you learn something in is the atmosphere you'll recall it best in. This means that if you study in a suit and reading a physical book, that's the way you'll remember it easiest. If you study in jeans and a shirt, and using a computer, that's the way you'll remember it easiest.

      A means that learning should either be tailored to the individu
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      but I do believe that in my generation (college) people still generally prefer to have a non-digital medium for actual learning. I've rarely run into anyone who would rather read a digital textbook then have some sort of physical document/book in their hands.

      It all boils down to what you're used to and what makes you feel comfortable. I love reading books on a palm device. I can curl up in bed and it's every bit as nice as having a physical book. I've been doing some computer certs and the books for the subject weigh about 50lbs in total and would never fit in my laptop bag but the books DO come with CD's, complete with pdf's! I can bring the whole kit and kaboodle to class and have it running on my laptop sitting right beside my workstation. Bright, legible s

    • by argStyopa (232550)
      Frankly, it's a lot easier to sit on the toilet with a book than to sit there with a laptop.

      I mean, we're talking about long-term power studying, no?
  • by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr@h[ ]ail.com ['otm' in gap]> on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:01AM (#20636531) Homepage
    See, technology does has its advantages. Let's talk learning here. To me, when I was in school, there were two types of lectures, two types of classes, two types of professors/teachers. I could usually tell right away which type a particular class would be, and that would set the stage for me and eventually my final grade.

    The two types:
    - Rote memorization
    - Conceptual learning

    Back before google was a verb I couldn't just 'google' my question and get the answer within seconds. It was advantageous to use some of my (maybe a lot of it) on simple rote memorization.

    But now, with so much information literally at my fingertips, I see no reason to fill as much of my memory up with the rote knowledge and facts. I feel that I am better served by learning the art of skepticism, philosophy, conceptualization, and the general techniques used to analyze, logically, the goings-on in my daily life.

    I think that in today's schools, if they choose to embrace technology in this way, you will see that in this sense this is advantageous over not having the technology at all.
    • These are very good points. In programming courses these days the teachers are saying that learning the language isn't as important as learning the concept, but then they teach it in a very language-oriented manner and often are unable to get the concept across clearly. So I think more and more people are realizing how important conceptual learning is, but they don't know how to teach beyond rote memorization.
    • But now, with so much information literally at my fingertips, I see no reason to fill as much of my memory up with the rote knowledge and facts. I feel that I am better served by learning the art of skepticism, philosophy, conceptualization, and the general techniques used to analyze, logically, the goings-on in my daily life.

      It would be marvelous given an inifinte amount of free time on your hands, but face it : most parts of human knowledge are now so complex that even the basics can take years to just grasp. You can't possibly discover again what's already been done all the way up, so you've got at least to learn about where the current knowledge has arrived. And this can only be done via rote learning.

      I too would be delighted to be able to simply crash into any science or art by just looking for answers, but I've exeperi

      • This is true. Hence the italicized "as much" in my quote.

        You have defined the why of the "as much". I was too lazy, or maybe figured someone else would handle that ;p
        • Just something else I should have written in my answer. You're posing as the perfect student, which is true I hope ;-)
          But as a lecturer, I know that statistically, students want badly rote memorization. Because they know there's going to be a test at the end of the semester, and all of a sudden, when the time comes, they realize that being tested on their critical abilities is more dangerous than memory. Memory is a muscle, anybody can train to have an adequate one. But critical thinking is MUCH more diffi
          • Well, inasmuch that critical thinking is a process, so must the steps used to perform that process be memorized. In other words, you need both types (from what I said in my original post) of learning. What I think technology has done is allow us more leeway to properly balance the two types.

            Now I'm just an armchair philosopher. There are probably quite a few more 'types' of learning and schooling. To break it all down into those two is probably not fair or adequate. As usual, my agenda was only to make
    • Back before google was a verb I couldn't just 'google' my question and get the answer within seconds. It was advantageous to use some of my (maybe a lot of it) on simple rote memorization.

      But now, with so much information literally at my fingertips, I see no reason to fill as much of my memory up with the rote knowledge and facts. I feel that I am better served by learning the art of skepticism, philosophy, conceptualization, and the general techniques used to analyze, logically, the goings-on in my daily life.

      I think that in today's schools, if they choose to embrace technology in this way, you will see that in this sense this is advantageous over not having the technology at all.

      I completely agree with you. But there's so much inertia built up behind the old way of doing things... It's just easier to drill people on facts. Here, memorize a hundred facts. There, now I can test you on them. You got 90%, I look good. How do you quantify "skepticism, philosophy, conceptualization, and the general techniques used to analyze, logically, the goings-on in my daily life"? It would require an intensive one-on-one test with the instructor. It's not something that you could fit on a scantron.

      • I suspect that that sort of personalized schooling is possible for the wealthy.

        For the rest, we'll just have to wait for true Artificial Intelligence. It might be a while.

        Imagine that, a professor who literally IS a walking encyclopedia. /orbit
        • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:44PM (#20638263)

          I suspect that that sort of personalized schooling is possible for the wealthy.

          For the rest, we'll just have to wait for true Artificial Intelligence. It might be a while.

          Imagine that, a professor who literally IS a walking encyclopedia. /orbit
          I was always blown away when reading about the biographies of the smarty smarts from history. You didn't typically get contributions to philosophy and the sciences from the poor because they didn't have the free time for any kind of productive recreational pursuits. They were lucky to have an hour for some beer before passing out before the next 12 hour workday. But these kids of the wealthy, they had the best minds of the day hired as tutors. You look at their accomplishments and think "Holy shit, they were geniuses beyond compare!" And then you look at the modern education system and think "hold on there, they were bright but just look at how inefficient our own education system is. Imagine if the kinds of resources thrown at the rich kids were thrown at one of the bright poor kids in class. Just imagine where he could be!"

          I wouldn't necessarily say that AI would have to be involved, we'd just have to seriously reconsider the way we structure learning in our society. The farmer's son learns at his side in the field. The cobbler's son learns at his side in the workshop. But with the industrial revolution, there was no time for taking kids to work along with dad -- maybe set them to work changing bobbins and losing fingers but that's it. For middle class jobs, junior isn't going to be working with his dad at the bank. But imagine if he were. I was taught math and reading at home before we ever encountered it in school. My dad was a mechanic by trade and it would have been quite interesting if I were able to work alongside him for part of the year, see how things are done. I have no aptitude for mechanics but it would have still been an interesting experience. Imagine if a very bright kid could be paired with a suitable mentor and take half his lessons that way. Yes, I know there were some drawbacks to apprenticeships historically but you can say the same thing about our compulsory education system, a mixed bag.
    • Thought I'd share a quote from one of my top five professors... see subject.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      Unfortunately most teachers use technology like Powerpoint presentations to increase the amount of rote memorization they can pound through in a given class. The ones who are trying to get you to think or to teach you concepts tend to talk to you instead.

      It doesn't HAVE to be that way, but it seems to happen more often than not.
  • Similar to... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kebes (861706) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:04AM (#20636581) Journal
    Note that this story is somewhat similar to a previous Slashdot item [slashdot.org] on "When 'Digital Natives' Go to the Library [insidehighered.com]" (complete with the 'Digital Native' buzz-word that I have not seen used on other sites).

    This quote included in TFA is, I think, the best way to look at integrating new technologies with teaching:

    Good teachers are good with or without IT and students learn a great deal from them. Poor teachers are poor with or without IT and students learn little from them.
    It's a truism that's pretty obvious, but bears repeating. In my opinion, technology can only enhance the teaching/learning experience, since good teachers will have the wisdom to deploy it carefully. Less skilled teachers will deploy it poorly (e.g. using it as a gimmick instead of an useful tool), but then again those are precisely the teachers that would be wasting student's time with other tools (chalkboards, textbooks, etc.).

    This is not to say that there have not been "growing pains" with integrating technology into teaching. Certainly I've seen otherwise competent professors make mistakes with over-zealously deploying an immature teaching tool. But, overall, I think the unsurprising conclusion is that all these new technologies provide advantages to those who are smart enough to exploit them properly.

    My general view is that rather than try to integrate specific technologies (which then become gimmick-like), it's best to simply make generic resources available to students and teachers (e.g. computer labs, Wi-Fi, laptop loaner programs, site-wide software licenses, etc.). When resources are available, students will inherently gravitate towards using them in the most useful ways. For example, rather than explicitly integrating a particular piece of tech into a course (a particular software package, forcing students to use an online message board, etc.), my inclination would be to make a bunch of avenues for learning available, and see which ones the students inherently use.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:06AM (#20636617) Journal
    I was in the first class of engineers which my school required to have a computer. That was 20 years ago. I now live in that college town, and have occasional interaction with the engineering department and its students. (No, that's not what I meant - get your mind out of the gutter). They use computers for the same things I did - CAD, spreadsheets, term papers. They get more out of them through the internet as many professors put assignments, notes and samples on line. We didn't play too many games because there weren't many immersive ones, and we didn't surf because the internet did not exist then as it exists now. The web had not yet been created (by web, I mean HTML and browsers). We didn't chat, unless you count BBSs - which I don't. We didn't download music or videos - most PCs didn't have sound cards, video wasn't really possible on an 8086, and p0rn, even if it existed was not really a hot item at 320x240 (in a stunning 256 colors).

    It seems that most of the progress has been in added functionality (as in more built-in functions - 3D solid cad, more rows/cols) and speed of processing. Everything else seems to be more about entertainment, whether its games, connectivity, or casual information (surfing). Students can amass more crap via downloads, but if you never print it out or look at it on the screen page-by-page it's just as bad as a Kinkos-printed set of notes where you watch the comb spine slowly yellow over the years. Actually, I suppose its worse - without that yellow spine in the bookcase to remind you that you have it, you don't even remember that lecture note set exists, buried in some sub-folder in you document directory.

    IMHO very little has changed in 20 years on the teaching front. The critical component to education in the interactive ability of the teacher and student to work together. Web-enabled learning still tens to fall short, imho, and expanding class attendance through distance learning just reduces the opportunity to get everyone involved in the learning process.

    Wait...I take part of that back - email does make a difference. Quick questions can be answered efficiently in an asynchronous manner that wasn't possible in my day (yes, we had voicemail, but couldn't copy the whole class). Still, it doesn't really scream "new teaching methods are necessary," unless new teaching methods involves putting web blocking software in the routers to keep the kids from surfing in a boring lecture.
  • Technology & history (Score:2, Interesting)

    by carandol (1110309)
    I'm a mature student doing an undergraduate history degree at a UK university, and the lecturers say that historical research has been completely revolutionised in the last five years by the internet. As an example, take Early English Books Online (EEBO), which has scans and transcriptions of every book published in English between the invention of the printing press 1750. Instead of having to travel to obscure academic libraries to find rare books (or manage without them), I can read all the source materia
    • That's great example, but I have to note what is probably the key point in your comment -- "mature". I am embarking on a path to become a "mature" undergrad as well (I'm 37) and I'm excited to get to it. But when I was a younger undergrad (18-19 and again at 23) I just didn't have the focus, will, and self-discipline to stay engaged in my classes. I don't think I could have handled the major distractions that come with today's IT infrastructure. I would surely have washed out even quicker than I did.

      So th
    • I can read all the source material I need for my dissertation from home via a VPN connection to my university.
      Equally, a student could just use google (or one of those essay-for-hire sites) and crib what someone else has written about them. I'm not implying that you would, of course.
  • It's hard to say no to a new tech grant because new computers and the possibility of a "laptop for every child" can look so good in the Sunday paper, but the truth of the matter is that high technology (like PDAs, cellphones, computers, even graphing calculators at times) are so much more distracting than helpful that I, working in education AND being such a techy have to be the lone educated person in the room saying thing like, "No, it will only hurt the kids! Just upgrade the office computers and pay for
  • mixed feelings (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anne Honime (828246) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:16AM (#20636777)

    Having spent a lot of time in the education system, both in front and behind the desk, I have mixed feelings about all this IT craze. When I was a pupil back in the 80's, I had to brew my own text processor (cp/m computer, wordprocessor still to be invented...). Wonderful experience, I typed back home my (terrible) handwritten notes. I still don't think it helped me a bit learning my lessons, but it taught me about computers when it was still quite new and shinny. Coolness factor at the time, about zero. Being a nerd wasn't hype then.

    Reel forward : 20 years later, I'm teaching criminal law. Still a nerd, but mainly as a hobbyist. Still produce most of my work on computers, likes wikipedia (but know it's not a source of scholarly value), use fluently most parts of internet. Students in front of me are wired as much as they can lift. After letting them do as they please (we're at university, they should be grown up, FFS), I have to step in and forbid recording devices in my class room, read the riot act (throwing the lowest possible marks as if shot in burst with a M16) at those stupid enough to forget I too can google parts of their dissertation to find the true author, etc. Now, I don't even provide a powerpoint during the course, they f*ckin' have to listen to me and write things down with a pencil. If they don't like that, my door is always open and works both ways.

    Finally, my feeling is IT is very good for homework, library work, and anything research-related. But it's the worst ennemy of the student willing to truly learn. I know many will swear that it's helping them, but that's self delusion. I too had a friend before internet who used to swear sticking colored stars next to chapters heads was helping him. It failed. he should have read the actual contents instead of fuzzing around. So have done successful students for past centuries, so will they for centuries to come.

    Nothing replace hard personnal work. But there is still a place for IT : it's a considerable step forward for anonymity of dissertations, and it avoids students having low marks for the sole reason the teacher can't decipher them because they have a bad writing.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:25AM (#20636917) Homepage

    I'm so glad that my eyes 'evolved' since my birth to allow me to read it on an LCD screen rather than the primitive CRT screens that my parents 'evolved' with. I guess my DNA got mangled about the same time that my fingers 'evolved' the ability to press little square buttons in order to produce this post.

    In other news, I'm still awaiting the mutation that will allow me to 'evolve' the ability to let pop science jargon slip by unchallenged. I pray to God every day that to reach in with with His Noodly Appendage and screw with my chromosomes.

    • I know it's fairly early in the game and all, for the information age and how it affects learning, living, evolution, etc..

      But I think of it like this:

      Which countries are advancing the quickest and have the strongest economies? Which countries have the highest quality of living?

      I think if you made that list, you'd see they were all countries on the leading edges of technology. It's correlation, not causation, but it's something to think about.

      Evolution can be more than just our DNA changing. Our technolo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Your.Master (1088569)
      Just because Evolution with a capital E often refers to the modern theory descended from Darwin's theory of natural selection and descent through modification, doesn't mean that evolution stopped being a perfectly legitimate term in unrelated scientific and lay contexts.

      There's nothing wrong here except for the fact that the article uses scare quotes around "evolution" where they are really unnecessary.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:26AM (#20636925)
    The idea is fairly old - Thomas Edison the inventor of the phonograph and co-inventor of movie films proposed commercializing education by recording the most charismatic teachers and showing them at schools. This supposedly would solve two cost problems: first you stimulate students with the best teachers; second you reduce the number of [expensive] teachers by replicating their presententions. EVERY TIME a new form of media was invented since Edison someone has proposed the same arguments for commercializing education- to this day, now with Internet text messaging and videos. To a small degree the InterNet has facilitated grade-school charter school and college-trade schools. It cuts the cost of classrooms, but not the labor costs of interactive teachers. There must be something fundamental about the interative give-and-take of teachers and students thats resisted change int the 2500 years since Plato's Academy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Overzeetop (214511)
      Of course this won't happen. You mentioned that teaching is an interactive process, but you forgot to add that the TIAA would require a payment of nearly the cost of a typical teacher to replay the recordings. Technology is about opportunity to increase revenue through efficiency, not about increasing efficiency for its own sake.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:27AM (#20636951)
    I can point to several religious websites that will refute that very notion. I'm not sure if I find it ironic, tragic, or maddening that religionists will use the latest in multimedia technology, the product of the scientific method and research, to spread their anti-intellectual and anti-science message. And they would certainly take great umbrage at the use of the word "evolution" to describe the changes in their evangelism strategy. We're talking about using satellite and internet communications to promulgate the tribal superstitions of poor, ignorant goat-herders. Ugh! If we were still listening to you guys, you wouldn't have satellites and TV! You wouldn't even have PA systems!

    Oh, well. At least the Muslims have been known to use the technology to party [youtube.com]. I've heard of sucka MC's but never mullah MC's.
  • As far as real differences on either end of the log.

    My mom's a professor at a college where they wholeheartedly embraced computer technology in the classroom right from when it first became viable (for non-comp-sci professors) and from my observations both as a student and in visiting her on campus, it hasn't really made a big difference.

    Those tenured old bores who droned on in endless lecture are now (mostly) reading PowerPoing presentations bullet-by-bullet. Engaging speakers who made connections with wha
    • it hasn't really made a big difference.

      There's increasing numbers of studies that show just this now that the computers have been in place for a while. Computers can't fix the fundamental problems with the educational system. The "solutions" used to be throw more money at it!" That didn't work either as anyone in California can tell you. Now it's "Throw more computers at it!" or even "Throw more computers AND more money at it!"

      Those tenured old bores who droned on in endless lecture are now (mostly) reading
  • I am quite a bit older than most four year college students, but that's due to paying my own way, and stopping and starting related to money issues.

    I remember being one of the first in my classes to have a laptop to take notes on. I simply type faster, without thinking about it, than I can write notes. At first, it was seen as an anomaly. Now, it's almost normal. In the last quarter I went to, a year ago, a good third of the folks I went in with had laptops. There is also internet access. The best class
  • I've always wondered when the next generational shift would become really apparent to me, and I think this is the moment when it's finally entered my field of vision. Half the comments on here sound almost exactly like my Grandparents when they talk about how evil the microwave is, or how we've lost an important part of life by getting a roomba. I'm even more shocked to find that anyone can go to school these days and 'not' find a large portion of the class taking notes on some kind of digital device.
  • Ass-imi-lated...

    Re-sistance... was fyu-tyle....
  • Nothing beats note taking on paper with one of those four color pens, which seem to be increasingly hard to find, sadly.

    Typing it all up into the computer later and adding diagrams (scanned or reconstructed in a drawing program) helps cement the info into your little neurons.

    Not everything has to be made high tech, and in some cases the high tech "solution" doesn't really solve anything and can cause more problems. *cough*voting*cough*

    Didn't they predict internet enabled refrigerators and coffee makers by n

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