Tales of Tech Terror From The Classroom

If you haven't been sent the link already, a class at the University of Denver made a parody video titled "The Class" about technology in the classroom. It follows the style of the show The Office including the theme song (parody counts as fair use, right?) in case you missed the reference.

The professor is teaching about technology in the classroom but he doesn't use technology. You don't need the full six minutes to get the punch line. The teacher uses a whiteboard, floppy disks with lecture notes and, of course, PowerPoint.

The students are using technology - to surf the Net, read mail, look at Facebook. One student suggests that perhaps they might use the expensive laptops they were told to buy. The prof, in sitcom style, learns a lesson and will try out clickers in his class.

It's a good little class project. The targets are easy though. I have had plenty of faculty, when asked about what technology they use in class, point to PowerPoint, the Internet or their learning management system. ("I use DVDs. That counts, right?")

It's not that any teacher has to use a technology just to use a technology. And technology doesn't fit into every lesson. So, it's the instructor who never uses any technology who we are pointing at with our finger of parody. It would be very difficult to defend not using any tech in any discipline at any grade level at this point.

We could all probably list some additional moments for the class to record in episode two, like handing out a paper with hyperlinks.

I encountered a prof who distributed PowerPoint slides printed as notes that had his changes and updates handwritten over the sheets because "I don't have the time to update the slides - which one of my grad students made for me two years ago." 

Is it really online information literacy to tell your students to "find relevant websites for the topic" when you never discuss what relevant and valid sites for your discipline means?

I had a high school science teacher proudly tell me that "I don't allow them to use Google. Only Google Scholar." When I asked if he thought that the dissertations and material found there weren't beyond the grasp of his students, he said, "They gotta start somewhere." Well, at least he knew about Google Scholar.

More than one teacher has told me that "I don't allow them to use Wikipedia" - meaning it can't be on their bibliography page. Do you follow them home and to the library to make sure Wikipedia isn't used? (insert illustration of ostrich with head in sand here) Shouldn't we be teaching students when and how to make use of Wikipedia, and when and why it is oftentimes not appropriate or the best source? I have given the assignment myself (and I know others also do) to have students create a Wikipedia editing account and create a first entry for a topic that does not appear there. (That is in itself becoming a tough assignment.) Then, they follow for the remainder of the semester the edits, additions and activity on their entry.

Here's "The Class" parody via YouTube


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