Kudos to the university for a little self-reflection in regards to its educational technology. It’s reassuring to know that even high-powered Ivy League institutions are struggling with the same student malaise in classrooms as we are here in the K-12 environment.
This quote from the article rang discordantly with me when I read it:
“Laptops can be very beneficial to students who wish to organize at the end of the day, week or semester,” former USG academics chair Caitlin Sullivan ’07 said. “At the same time, I often see emails, [instant] messenger and even videos on their screens [during class]. Those are the two ends of the spectrum.”
I understand that quotes taken out of context can mislead; however,
the potential for professors to use laptop technology to their
advantage far outweighs the “organizing” principles associated with
The problem may not be with the laptops, but rather academia’s ability to capture today’s students with conventional lectures. At Assorted Stuff, Tim Stahmer brings up two great points in regards to the same article. If the content and delivery aren’t engaging, what does it matter if it’s PowerPoint or not:
“Again, who’s fault is that? PowerPoint doesn’t “induce” anything. Boring lectures are going to be boring with or without the accompanying slide show.”
I see quite a bit of PowerPoint during my travels throughout my buildings, but I often see it accompanied with some fantastic pedagogy. Student interest remains high because of the ability of the teacher to understand the needs of the learners in the room. I also see a lot of time spent on projects where the student’s end result is a PowerPoint, complete with notecards and an awkward 5 minutes in front of the room reading exactly what is on the slide.
Princeton, and for that matter, all of us, needs to look at what need is being fulfilled by PowerPoint from the professor’s view. My teachers use it because it enables them to organize their thoughts and provide jumping off points for lectures. The obvious question would be : what else is out there that we can use to replace it? But the better question is, how can I get myself away from 40 minutes of relying on a PowerPoint, and move towards a truly interactive, student-driven lesson? I bet we could answer the obvious question in a few minutes, but the second one is the one that deserves our attention.
powered by performancing firefox