Computers in the classroom

There are reoccuring issues with technology in the classroom. The first issue is whether the technology even works in the first place. The second issue is whether the technology is effective for all the activities in the classroom.

You might think that putting technology in a classroom is easy. When you have a CPU dedicated to the room then an IT staff usually controls and maintains it. My expereince is that there are problems putting everyone’s needs on one computer. What happens when class A increases the recording audio levels and class B doesn’t check the recording audio levels? One advantage of bringing your own laptop to the classroom is that you control the computer. But will your computer interface with the audio system? For along time PCs didn’t even have sound cards. Who would need them? Of course if you bring your own laptop you are responsible for it.

The other issue is the effectiveness of the technology to follow and document the interactivity in the classroom.  This is where things really fail. If the recording doesn’t capture a student question and faculty don’t restate the question the recording has a dead space.

The trend toward flipping lectures changes the issue. If faculty are pre-recording a lecture, distributing it via the Internet and hold discussion during class time, the need for lecture capture is diminished. But some faculty are experimenting with virtual classroom technology and virtual office hours. I would like to see what replaces the lecture in the flipped lecture scenerio. I am skeptical that class time will engage students.

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