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Seb Anthony

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As academics have much pressure to improve on IT skills, the responses to it are rather slow. Using IT for education includes acquiring technical skills, and more importantly applying technology in a pedagogical approach. Many training sessions focus on acquiring the technical skills. So, how best can training programmes or training models to help academics to re-appraise their teaching approach with technology?
paula hodgson

3 Responses

  1. Sell idea!
    My personal experience is not in academics “afraid”/”wary” to use new technology, but with senior managers in a 500+ company. They love their acetates! However, once they have seen a snazzy (but not too much) slide show and have had (probably) 1:1 sessions to see how simple it is to run (presuming secretaries can add the interesting bits) your job is just to sell on and re-iterate that they are using 2002 technology (not 1970’s stuff!). You obviously need input from the top – persuade the Chairman etc who will then sell on to his Heads of Dept and etc…. It may take some selling… Good luck!

  2. Get someone else to do it…
    Our experience in working extensively with academics on our m@sterclass and f@sterclass programmes for middle and senior management development is that they are frequently the least likely to be able to approach, appraise and appreciate (hmm, good alliteration there – use it as a slogan in the selling campaign) technology as a teaching aid. As with the management population we work with some do, most don’t.

    We are interested in their brains, not their QWERTY skills, so we work with them to develop technology (which we know far more about than them) that complements their thinking, viewpoint and approach, but only repeat only if there is an actual learning benefit, not because of mindless policy or budget overspill.

    The most successful use of technology we have found is engaging them in web based discussions even (on occasions) if this means we have to read out the questions and audio type their responses.

    We view academic experts as “disruptive influences” on our programmes. Their job is to rattle people’s thinking, not necessarily to do whizzy PowerPoint (is that actually possible??).

    We also notice that PowerPoint (and several other technologies) are the least appropriate tools for senior management development since the learning is non-linear, not binary right/wrong, and rarely fits a prescribed path. PowerPoint works in a straight line Slide 1, Slide 2 etc. and presumes a pre-determined answer from the expert (not how managers learn, in our experience at Clearworth).

    So – use the academics for what they are good at and support them with technology only when it actually enhances the learning experience, not just because it’s there. And if they can’t do it then get someone to do it for them.

    Clive Hook
    Clearworth – a class apart

  3. Use web-enabled technology
    Using technology as a tool for teaching has become a necessity for some us. The money simply isn’t there any more for people to travel to seminars and training courses. We have to bring the education to the students by electronic means.

    We’re in a difficult transition stage, where we have to learn a completely new approach. When you present across the internet all the old skills become irrelevant. You can no longer see the expressions on students’ faces — and they can no longer see you. Traditional Powerpoint presentations won’t hold the attention of a class without you there to liven things up. The interest has to be in your voice, your pacing and the material. The best webinar software enables students to type in questions to be answered during or after the class, and allows them to indicate whether the material is too difficult, too slow or too fast.

    Like it or not, we’re all going to have to become familiar with these new techniques. Maybe one day we’ll wonder how anyone ever held the attention of a group by nothing more technical than scribbling on a blackboard.


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