Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

On Teaching & Learning 2010

Mom & Dad house LI after snow storm

I must admit it’s been a relaxing and productive Christmas break for me.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my plans of traveling to New York were scrapped due to the bad snow storms slamming DC all the way to Long Island –  so I regrouped and have been getting lots accomplished here at home.

Once I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere for Christmas I started making  lists of things I wanted to accomplish, but never had the time due to the demands of work.  In addition to getting my house and office clean,  yard raked, closets organized and clothes I no longer wear dropped off at the Salvation Army – I’ve spent a few hours each day upgrading and retooling my online classes. This has  got me thinking about the current state of teaching and learning as we head into the year 2010. First off it’s hard to believe 2010 is just around the corner. Seems like yesterday when everyone was stressing out over Y2K – that was 10 years ago!

The teacher / student dynamic (relationship) has also changed dramatically  since the 90’s. First of all both students and teachers (for the most part) have embraced (and become proficient with) a variety of new technologies which have been  catalysts for dramatic growth in online education.

I’ll readily admit I would have retired early from teaching if it were not for the introduction of Blackboard (online teaching) in the late 90’s.  Teaching online introduced me to new and creative challenges  just when I was starting getting burned out from traditional classroom instruction.

This brings me to the core of my thoughts on teaching and learning in 2010. Essentially I believe the attributes required to be an effective teacher are still the same as we enter the next decade of this new millennium.  Great teachers are creative, innovative, passionate, enthusiastic and show sincere interest and comprehension of their respective subject area.  Students on the other hand have changed over the past 10-15 years and this evolution has come about in part because of rapid advances in technology and cyber culture.

Now here’s the rub.  I believe teachers (at all grade levels) have to do a better job mastering the new and powerful tools (technology) at their disposal for CONNECTING with (and engaging) their students.  The attributes for great teachers is the same BUT the tools we use for teaching have changed and become much more technologically sophisticated. This is our challenge heading into the next decade.

Students on the other hand may have a better grasp on technology, however the techniques and skills required for effective learning have not changed all that much either.  This is where I sense a disconnect based on my 10+ years teaching exclusively online for a variety of colleges across North Carolina.  Sure… we as teachers and students have all this great and powerful communications technology (Video, YouTube,  Podcasts, Screencasts, 3-D simulations, Second Life, Blackboard, Moodle, etc.) at our disposal for imparting and deciphering information, however if the students are not motivated or interested in learning and not willing to put the time and effort in to meet the instructor halfway on the learning journey then it’s not going to matter how great the technology is – learning is NOT going to occur.

Bottom line here (in my opinion) is that teaching tools (technology) have changed dramatically, but the skills and attributes needed for being excellent teachers and effective learners remain relatively the same.  Both students and teachers must harness (embrace) technology for both teaching and learning to the point where it becomes intuitive. The days of the chalk board and overhead projector are over and have been replaced with sophisticated course management systems.

I’m excited about the coming year and the challenges facing me as an online teacher and Distant Learning Director. In reality this is not all that complicated.  The Industrial Revolution is over and that instructional model is just about dead and buried.  As I state at the beginning of all my distance learning workshops;  The easy part is becoming proficient and confident with technology – the real challenge for both teachers and students is using it to its fullest potential for both teaching and learning.  2010….here I come!


2 comments on “On Teaching & Learning 2010

  1. Gerry Hoyum
    January 5, 2010

    Boozhoo Keough from the north country, We have warmed up to just 10 below zero..feels balmy. Just a word on your latest posting. I realize the world you teach in is far different then mine and technology is a major part of what you do at a college level. After teaching in traditional public schools, helping to start a charter school and many years teaching in a BIA run reservation school I have seen the changes you speak about. I will be blunt. No matter how great a teacher you are todays product (student) coming through the door for the most part has less skills or motivation for learning. Some have had technology in front of them all there lives and struggle with reading a book because it takes so long. If it isn’t visual stimulation their not interested they have lost the ability to imagine. If you write in cursive they cannot read it because they have only seen type written text. I love the comment that we all need sophisticated course management systems….damn I need to get out of the woods more and find the dollars for that resource. I agree that a truly great teacher connects with the student. Instructional models should be based on individual students abilities/skills…teachers need to bring to the table every trick in the book to ignite the love of learning. Teachers are like farmers we plant the seeds with the hope someday they take root and our students become a valuable contributing member of society. Take care Red Dog I for one still have the love of teaching as I know you do. Your old friend Ozaawaakook

  2. keoughp
    January 7, 2010

    Its really cold here in NC as well Gerry aka Ozaawaakook. We certainly teach in 2 different worlds but the attributes of good teachers is always the same no matter what technologies we are using to deliver instruction. 75% of all my student study from me from a distance. I never see most of my students so I must use a sophisticated course management system in order to replicate the dynamic classroom environment. Great point about teachers being like farmers and planting seeds of knowledge in our students. Keep the passion old buddy! I have an insanely busy semester ahead of me. Teaching for 6 different schools this semester all from the coast of NC. Have a great new year old friend!

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2009 by in Distance Learning, Teaching with Technology and tagged , , , .
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