Technology is changing the way students learn. Is it changing the way colleges teach?
Not enough, says George Siemens, associate director of research and development at the University of Manitoba’s Learning Technologies Centre.
While colleges and universities have been “fairly aggressive” in adapting their curricula to the changing world, Mr. Siemens told The Chronicle, “What we haven’t done very well in the last few decades is altering our pedagogy.”
To help get colleges thinking about how they might adapt their teaching styles to the new ways students absorb and process information, Mr. Siemens and Peter Tittenberger, director of the center, have created a Web-based guide, called the Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning.
Taking their own advice, they have outfitted the handbook with a wiki function that will allow readers to contribute their own additions.
In the its introduction, the handbook declares the old pedagogical model—where the students draw their information primarily from textbooks, newspapers, and their professors—dead. “Our learning and information acquisition is a mash-up,” the authors write. “We take pieces, add pieces, dialogue, reframe, rethink, connect, and ultimately, we end up with some type of pattern that symbolizes what’s happening ‘out there’ and what it means to us.” Students are forced to develop new ways of making sense of this flood of information fragments.
But Mr. Siemens said that colleges had been slow to appreciate this fact. “I don’t see a lot of research coming out on what universities might look like in the future,” he said. “If how we interact with information and with each other fundamentally changes, it would suggest that the institution also needs to change.” –Steve Kolowich