Posted February 26, 2010on:
The information provided at the YouTube page says that the video was staged, i.e., the laptop was not working before it was dunked in liquid nitrogen and smashed on the floor.
Staged or not, the message was clear: The professor did not want his students to use laptop computers in his class. I am sure that a less dramatic but equally emphatic scene is repeated in halls and classrooms elsewhere.
Why ban laptop use? I am guessing he did not want his students to Facebook, IM or play games while he lectured. Fair enough.
Lecturing has its time and place. It’s just that it is increasingly not now and here. Just because you are talking does not mean that your students are listening.
Why not take advantage of what the students already have and integrate that into “lectures”? You could get students to use their computers to take notes collaboratively, fact check, provide feedback, or process data during the lecture.
Furthermore, sticking strictly to the lecture format is an indicator that one sees one’s self as a content expert. There is nothing wrong with knowing your stuff. But an educator must also be a learning expert, i.e., realize how students learn (see what Will Richardson said about this). The expectations of students and what engages them are quite different from when their professor was a student.
I am not saying that a lecture cannot be engaging. I am not saying that a teacher ought to pander to students or merely entertain. I am saying that educators should strive to stay relevant in order to remain effective. They should look first into their learners’ heads instead of living in their own.