Technology in learning and what can you do with a paperclip?


This semester I have the privilege of tutoring a graduate course with a strong emphasis on technology. The technology is relied upon for delivering the learning content and integrating  opportunities to create new learning and content (through the topic of micro-finance and development).

The challenge faced in this type of class is finding the “magic way” to help students become comfortable with the changing face of education (including technologies being introduced) and connecting to the changes the students are experiencing personally as technology sublimely seeps into their lives. There is always great inspiration when someone suggests an alternative point of view, questions a paradigm or expresses divergent thinking, demonstrates a fresh perspective or gives a wake-up call to any number of assumptions we all get lazy with. In our model of learning we are using this semester, uncovering the collective potential of a cohort is the goal, where every individual can contribute from their strengths instead of forcing a ‘one size fits all’ approach top down upon them. As Sir Ken Robinson says:

“These are among the core skills that students now need: They need to be creative. They need to be able to communicate. They need to able to work in teams. They need to be cultural literate, and they need to be able to respond to other people’s points of view and to empathize.”

The insights and observations that come from the students in this course are inspiring as much because of their authenticity as for the value they contribute from their busy, time scarce unbalanced study and professional lives. Without this new type of course design we wouldn’t be learning from each other, creating networks or discovering individual perspectives. That is the privilege I speak of – learning from each other, creating networks and discovering the individual perspectives that automatically makes a single topic and discussion full of creative, innovative rich dimensions.

When you watch the animated presentation (11 mins) capturing the wisdom of Sir Ken Robinson he mentions paperclips   There are many other videos on YouTube and showcasing his perspective.


Mind(ing) the gap in higher education…


Recently I asked a colleague (also a tutor) about what technologies the tutor uses at work. The response was swift – email, scanning, printing, video conferencing, collaboration projects in online spaces (wikis), facebook (uploading marketing videos and images), youtube channel (where the keep their mission related videos), twitter handle, company website, company blog, online newsletter….

Then I asked how many of these technologies does the tutor incorporate into their graduate level course. The response was equally swift – just one. Email.

So, why is there such a gap between what the student experiences in higher education and what they are working with daily in their professional role? And why does academia ask the student to turn their technology off when they come to class?