On our teaching activity and on technology in general

Today (12.11.2018), we presented our teaching activity, which hopefully demonstrated the myriad possibilities of digital platforms for collaborative academic projects. The activity went quite well and all the groups were able to create collective libraries (in Mendeley) and comment each others’ articles. Planning and executing this activity made me think more generally of the possibilities and limits of similar kinds of platforms for teaching purposes. Many teachers already use message boards and even chat-applications (such as Slack) in their teaching, and it makes me wonder if I too should update my devices for the 21th century..

Yet it is interesting how these platforms can, in no way, compete with actual human to human interaction, for example, small group discussions or other, rather analog technologies. I’ve taken part in many courses which have used message boards but the disussions have always felt rather forced and bored. They’ve never really taken off, so to speak and I’ve never gotten almost anything from them. Using message boards or chats is somewhat easy for the teachers however as posts and comments are easy to quantify…

The same comparison goes to lecturing with fancy, flashy and colourful powerpoints and other multimedias, which are nowadays tought to be an obligatory part of all teaching. Yes, they can help, but at the same time I can clearly remember the legendary lectures of professor Taneli Kukkonen, who simply walked into the classroom with a coffee cup in his hand and started to talk about the history of ideas in the Islamic world without any notes or what so ever. Sometimes he would write something on the chalkboard, maybe some crucial years or names, but that was it. Without a structural aide such as a powerpoint, he also occasionally drifted away from the core topic, but at all times he was sharp, captivating and conversational with his students. His method and his devices were not that much differen, I can imagine, from the good teachers through all ages of history.

I remember him and his wildly running arabic script on the chalkboard but I have no such memories of any powerpoint presentations.

And I am not a luddite by the way.

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