Monday, July 20, 2009

Does removing computers from the classroom improve teaching?

One of SoMo's deans seems to think so according to this story from The Chronicle of Higher Ed:

College leaders usually brag about their tech-filled "smart" classrooms, but a dean at Southern Methodist University is proudly removing computers from lecture halls. José A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, has challenged his colleagues to "teach naked" — by which he means, sans machines.

More than anything else, Mr. Bowen wants to discourage professors from using PowerPoint, because they often lean on the slide-display program as a crutch rather than using it as a creative tool. Class time should be reserved for discussion, he contends, especially now that students can download lectures online and find libraries of information on the Web. When students reflect on their college years later in life, they're going to remember challenging debates and talks with their professors. Lively interactions are what teaching is all about, he says, but those give-and-takes are discouraged by preset collections of slides.

Read more here.  What do you think?  Is Dean Bowen closed-minded and hopelessly rooted in the past or is he instead one of the more open-minded and innovative cats to come down the pike in a while?  Leave your comments below.  I am the scholarship dude.

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I think Dean Bowen has it right. Looking back at my somewhat recent college experience, I look most fondly on the classes that did not use PowerPoint. The occasional computer use was fine, but when professors used it all the time it was counter-productive. The same is true of law school. It is much more difficult to get a discussion going when the professor is reading off a computer screen.

Posted by: Josh Camson | Aug 3, 2009 2:38:45 AM

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