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Part I Technology and Education: So what do you want it to do?

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What I am doing today is very much what I do in the classroom. I design my lectures around being very open, having to be ready to go in any number of directions at any given time. I don’t work from textbooks. I don’t work from anything. All my material is created by myself or created through linking to other resources on the outside. And the reason for that and the first little check mark “yeah, for technology” thing is that it allows me to move in any direction at any time on any different number of topics. The downside to that is it takes time. You have to prep this. You have to be ready. Talking about this perfect world. Or what I call “massage chairs for everyone." I want to talk about two different things here in that first statement, “Is that the best you can do?" The way that I think of technology in education is not so much to think about it in terms of this technology is great or useful, or I should be using this technology. For me, I approach it from the argument that you need to focus more on is your room—is your classroom—the perfect educational environment by your definition? I’ll talk again a little more about what does that mean “your definition” in terms of your personal framework. When we talk about in a perfect world, and again the reason I put the word "massage chairs" in there, is that people say, “Oh yeah, if I had these surround sound screens. If we had screens on all the walls. And if all the students had massage chairs. If we had this, if we had that. That would just be fantastic." And I question, how would it be fantastic? In terms of the teaching. In terms of the education. In terms of how the students are going to learn. How is all of that going to make it so great? It’s something that people don’t really think about that much. We have this technology and I know I should be using it. In the introduction on the JALT page, I said that teachers have to stop thinking about what the technology does, and have to think more about what do you want the technology to do? By that I mean, what you want the technology to do in terms of your teaching and education. It’s more about focusing on what’s the point and purpose of your teaching? What’s the classroom? What’s the outcome that you expect from the students in the way that they are being assessed? In the way that they are leveling up, in whatever way that is. That’s the way you have to approach it. Rather than going from this top down approach of saying, well we have WebCT, we have Moodle, we have Blackboard. We have these things, now I need to start learning how to use them. It has to be flipped on its head. The teacher has to be the one saying, "this is what I need." We heard that a little bit over here was "we need it to do this." There has to be the teaching. The educational model has to be the motivating factor for why technology does something. Instead we have, and there are a lot of nice models… When I talk about all of these technologies, you are going to hear me maybe talk about Mac, maybe PCs, maybe talk about Moodle; throwing and dropping all of these names from all these different technologies. Let me jump on the whole, Mac vs. PC battle, or any of these other technology A vs. technology B battles. I don’t care. My only interest is does it do what I need it to do in this environment? I use PCs. Why? I was trained on PCs. You had a Macintosh for your whole life. That's what you learned how to use. I’m more comfortable using PCs, and if you want to get into really technical things, I can talk more about the reason I use PCs. Back in the day, the year 2000 or so. When I was trying to do a variety of different things with audio, with video and different things. At that time Macintosh didn’t have the things that I needed. So I was already comfortable with PCs, plus when I was looking for platforms—and these days software works across everything, right? You can get a Mac version you can get a PC version. Usually for anything it is all universal. But not much longer than 10 years ago, it’s like, well we have the PC version for that, but we don’t have a Macintosh version of that software package, or that application, or whatever it was. But when I was teaching in Australia at the University of Canberra, there was a big long hallway in the computer labs. On the left side were PC labs. On the right side were Mac labs. And as a tute—teaching tutorials and teaching in the computer labs—I had to teach on both sides. I had to teach in PC only labs. I had to teach in Macintosh only labs. I had to get comfortable with both sides. When I talk about technology, please don’t take it in the, “Oh, he’s a Mac guy or he’s a PC guy or he’s promoting this particular platform.” I promote it because I had needs. I had needs based on my teaching and education. And I went out looking for answers and we’re talking about that sounds interesting, that sounds good. To meet those needs, I found these platforms and it’s always changing. I’m always choosing different things. I don’t as much these days, but back in the day when I first started teaching in higher education, I used to tell my students that a lot of what I do in the classroom is based out of anger and frustration and a little bit of arrogance. "What do you mean you teach out of anger and arrogance?" What I mean by that is I used to sit in, and I still do it, I sit in on classrooms and presentations and lectures, and I used to sit in the back. And when you are not sleeping from how boring the PowerPoint presentation is or whatever is happening in the lecture The anger and the arrogance came from saying, “I could do this better. I see what this person is trying to do. I see what they are doing, but I can do it better.” I was 21, 22 years old and had the chutzpah to come in and say "I can do it better than you." Not so much to say that I know the topic better. "I know more about physics than you do professor." It’s the difference of saying, you can be a math professional, you can be a physics major, in engineering, but it doesn’t make you a good teacher. A lot of what I first started when I got into technology and education was based out of anger and arrogance. Anger that I felt it wasn’t being done in the best way possible. And the arrogance to say, "I could do it better." "When I get the chance, I’ll do it better." And I challenge my students even now, especially at a university of education. Next semester I teach what’s called "kokusai rikai", international globalization studies. I tell them the same thing. That class I do a lot of presentation teaching, teaching them how to give presentations. A lot of that is based on telling them, “I want you to watch me today as I lecture, as I speak, and be thinking, 'I could do it better.'” "If I was standing there right now, I could do it better." Okay, how would you do it better? What is it that I am doing that is wrong or not effective or not interesting that you could stand up and do it better?

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 51 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
Producer: Robert Perkins
Views: 74
Posted by: shoukoedu on Aug 30, 2011

Part I of a lecture given by Robert Perkins for Nara JALT
August 20, 2011

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