Sunday, November 20, 2005

Treating Students Like Customers...

Some of you will find this article quite interesting. It discusses how college lectures don't work anymore because of wireless internet access and has several other interesting insights. Check it out!

A sample:

As traditional Universities continue to scramble to find ways to attract and retain students, many staples of the undergraduate experience are falling away. Students no longer wait in lines in gymnasiums to register for classes, nor do they live in concrete-walled dorm rooms outfitted like the local penitentiary. Instead, Universities are being forced to treat their students as (gasp!) discerning customers, customers who are increasingly selective in how they spend their educational dollars.

My favorite part:

Educational psychology and Roger Shank continuously remind us that "learning by doing works; learning by telling doesn't." Even Avi Zenilman ponders in his Slate article that "perhaps the real problem with laptops in lectures isn't the laptops, but professors' over-reliance on the lecture as a learning tool."

Learning by doing... hey... musicians have known that for thousands of years!


Ryan Kelly said...

I respectfully, but unreservedly disagree with Mr. Shank. The problem isn't with lectures, it is with students' lack of mental discipline to focus, consider and wrestle with presented material, and make mental application of that material during lectures. It has to do with the will of the student to learn. And, that is no different with the "learning by doing" education model, because I've encountered plenty of students who will "refuse" to learn by "doing," by their lack of enthusiasm, half-hearted efforts, etc. If students want to learn, are WHOLE-HEARTEDLY committed to bettering themselves by education, and who take classroom teaching that may be be difficult as a potentially beneficial path along their pursuit for academic excellence, then they will learn whether it is in a lecture setting or "hands-on" setting.

So let it be written, so let it be done!

Ryan Kelly said...

And, the picture you posted is evident of my point. The students in that picture have been trained to discipline themselves, to focus, to hear, to take notes, etc. I would posit that, regardless of the quality of the lecture given by the woman in the picture, that the majority of the students in the picture are learning. Assuming they have the desire to learn.

Katie Mo said...

While I find that the idea of searching for a lecture online and diciplining myself to learn from a grainy video of a professor terrifying, even more frightening are the implications if such a "coursecast" system was fully implimented. If everyone but the English Dept (who for obvious reasons, can't) turns to the Scantron to test their students, what becomes of the faculty? All we would need, after recording each lecture of each professor, is someone to collect scantrons on test days and feed them through the machine. A dead man could teach chemistry.
There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that would even more encourage college students to never leave their dorm room. This online lecture idea could even let people stay home while "attending" a school 200 miles away.

Marybeth Verchot said...

Yeah. . . about that whole "treating students like customers" thing. . . it'd be nice if UAB did that with the meal plan buisness, rather than removing stoves from all student housing in order to motivate people to buy meal plans.

I feel more motivated to move off-campus, personally.

Totally off topic, but yeah. I found out about the stove thing today and I'm not bitter.

I'm not bitter, I'm not bitter. . .

Katie Mo said...

ditto, MaryBeth! ditto.

I miss ovens :( no brownies, no cakes, no cookies, no pies...

hey, quit laughing. what else are ovens good for?