I’m not sure if I will follow through with publicly posting my thoughts, but a bit of self-reflection on what it means to lead for me would probably go a long way in figuring out some things that have been sitting in my head and on my heart for a good number of weeks.
I have definitely come around to the idea that it is OK to talk through ideas more than originally thought. This is the kicker:
And with every iteration of talking about the idea you actually understand the idea better. A new idea is this delicate thing, a mere thought floating in a single person’s head unprotected from criticism.
Ideas need other people to be tested.
It was not terribly long ago that I had almost completely rid myself of carrying a laptop. I was able to keep a desktop at home, a desktop at work, and a tablet for those times I was traveling and really needed to get online for something more involved than checking my phone.
However, that was then, and teaching online courses has tethered me to a laptop far more than being a sysadmin ever did. My dream of whittling my bag down to a tablet and various other small materials is essentially dead. Current online teaching platforms require a laptop to be effective while doing some of even the most mundane of tasks.
This is not a real complaint, more of an observation about how our tools are dictated by the platforms and the assumptions developers make. While my students could effectively handle most of their course from a mobile device (and I have in mind to work toward making the courses I have complete control over as mobile friendly as possible), the teaching experience still requires access to at least a laptop, and often a desktop with multiple monitors.
When Steve Jobs spoke about the stratification of computing into different categories (traditional PCs as trucks, tablets as cars, etc.), I thought the metaphor was apt, but I hoped to be able to stick myself into a car when it came to mobile computing.
Instead, I now carry a crossover in my bag so that I might be able to get work done even when I am away from one of my desks. While it works well, part of me wishes I could still stick with just a hatchback.
teaching from the Kindle by Alan Jacobs
And let me tell you, friends, teaching a book from a Kindle stinks. Big time.
That is the money quote. Read the comments as well because they are quite good and extend on the article quite ably and usefully.
There is the need to adjust teaching methods to make the most of the tools available, where that is appropriate. However, this is an issue I ran into when working through grad school: so much of the technology and applications available today are really quite bad for educational purposes. It isn’t that the technology is bad itself, but that within the educational context, they are not as useful as they could be if time was spent working on what the needs are within education (and at this point, higher education).
Trying to work out a workflow for digital discovery and note-taking for my capstone was painful. I ended up having to switch between three or four different applications to make it all fit together, and even then it was less than ideal.
There is a lot of low-hanging fruit to make scholarship and writing better utilizing digital tools. Kindle is just an example.
yet another post about making distinctions by Alan Jacobs
I have to move slowly with some of these things, because by and large my students mistrust and are deeply uncomfortable with such technologies. But all of them are, at least in potentia, pedagogically fruitful.
I know there is always talk about the new digital natives within the realm of higher education, but I think this paragraph hits on a good point. There is also a tendency to view things as inauthentic if they are not done well or there is no understandable benefit. Mistrust is a good word.
Bringing technology into pedagogy for the sake of technology can have limited or negative benefit. Intentionality, mastery, sound technology is important.