Technology is spreading like wildfire. A few years ago it was rare for a professor to use a computer while lecturing. It was rare to send mail to all the students in one's class. Certain students, those in political science and journalism, might have been expected to have the newspaper delivered to their doorstep each morning. We have students in our classes today who can remember a time before Google and before the first iPhone, perhaps a few who can remember a time before Word, but we won't have many such students for long. How will the work of professors change during our careers?
The future is admitted scary, but it's hard to avoid, and it occurs to me this could be a good thing. The problem is, how do we pull it off well? About a decade ago students demanded that classes be taught on Powerpoint and demanded to be given printouts of the slides. Many instructors who went along did so only grudgingly and their classes were not better for being grudgingly Powerpointalized. That was computerization of teaching 1.0. I believe we can do better now. There are a host of new options for Academic Technology 1.1. The simplest extension is merely to get a microphone and record your lectures within Powerpoint or Keynote. It is not that much more trouble, but it is a vastly better record of what happened in lecture. With smart phones, students can play back the bits they didn't understand in the slivers of time between classes. This is only one option. Your colleagues are constantly generating a procession of options for teaching that involve technology (and that don't - I love the non-technical ones too).
We are a profession that will need to adapt. The environment is changing, and it's changing fast. My goal is to facilitate adaptation. We will do better with recombination. Yes, for every ten innovations, more than a handful will ultimately be bad ideas, but one or two will improve learning, make it easier for the student, or more efficient, or less work for the instructor. Also, there's the problem of keeping up with the competition. About now, some of you will be thinking that I'm referring to the University of Phoenix, but you shouldn't imagine that I'm not referring to Stanford and MIT. So, bring your best practices to my desktop, and take from my desktop the best practices of your colleagues.
Finally, as educators, it seems we have a certain obligation to teach the next generation not just how to write tidy prose, give a riveting talk, and use the equations of Isaac Newton. It seems to me it is also our job to empower our students in new media. Our students are taking pictures and recording lectures, shooting video and networking online, but are they doing it well? Please teach them quality.
Tell me how my office can help. -Deone