Friday, 17 June 2016

Open laptops in lecture halls - a distraction? Of course...

Another piece of research has come out, confirming the obvious. Open laptops in lecture halls are a distraction - multiple choice tests of those with and those without laptops demonstrate those without do better. This is not an argument to stop the research - it is just that the same result will be obtained unless the pedagogy changes and the outcomes being sought are appropriate for the (type of) learners.
The obvious aspect to state is the distraction one - the old pedagogy of lecture, no matter how entertaining the lecture might be, will be no match for the social media back channel.
But Alex Reid also makes this really good point in his article: Laptops, Classrooms, and Matters of Electrate Concern. "Students in digital media-cognitive ecologies have different capacities than those students who preceded them. Those capacities are not a delimited list; they will shift depending on the particular network of actors in which they operate. (...) As we might say, pedagogy shapes and is shaped by learning technologies. (...) Furthermore, we will need to help students learn how to shape such ecologies for themselves to facilitate their own learning, work, and life".
What are these capacities? What alternatives are there to lecture-delivered information, understanding, skills, and concepts to match those capacities?
In a school setting (as opposed to a university lecture hall one), how can we make use of these emerging capacities? How can students and teachers learn together to shape these ecologies so as to facilitate learning?

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