Stop attacking technology

There are a lot of articles, twitter threads and the like flying around a few weeks ago about the alleged impact of technology on shall we say the ‘quality’ of learning?

There was #LTHEchat on lecture capture, and a lot of anecdotes about lecture capture encouraging superficial learning (box set mentality) circulate regularly. The lack of evidence of improvement in learning is also frequently cited by the no lecture capture side.

There have been the articles that mobile devices (laptops, phones) damage learning when used to take notes in lectures. And inevitably the calls that electronic devices should be banned from classrooms/lecture theatres.

I’m tired of both of these ‘issues’.  I’m tired of having to point out that there are students who cannot participate fully in learning sessions without the ability to take notes by laptop. I’m tired of having to point out that there are students who cannot attend every session and who benefit from lecture recordings even when there are only limited portions of the recorded session that are ‘transmission of information’. (e.g. sessions with high active learning – record them). I’m tired of wanting to remind people who should simply know better that:

(a) they were not representative of all styles and modes of learning when they were students and were likely a-typical in that they are now academics.

(b) as researchers, they should be willing to base decisions on evidence rather than personal opinion, anecdote, or herd decisions. And if the evidence for their specific context is lacking, they probably have the ability to conduct a study and generate some.

(c) if use or absence of use of technology has that critical an impact on students’ success, one has to consider the pedagogy being employed as being flawed.

It’s been a long semester and I’m all kinds of tired, but mostly I’m tired of people (who should know better) forgetting that students are humans.