Thursday, April 07, 2011

And I Don't Understand The Appeal of Clickers Either

I really don't particularly care how dopey, pseudo-Ludditish, or bull-headed it may be: I think this is my new professional manifesto:

Perhaps it is naïve of me to say that we’re at a crossroads in education, for it may well be that we came to the crossroads long ago, that we weren’t paying attention, and that now, like Young Goodman Brown, we’re well into the forest of sin and error, where the darkness around us is deep indeed. But if we are at crossroads, I would like to go on record as saying that the most important thing we can do right now is turn resolutely away from any gadget more sophisticated than chalk.

Yes! If you're able to effectively run a classroom where close readings take place and serious issues are discussed in the midst of discussion boards and video files and PowerPoint demonstrations, you have my applause. But please, please, let me keep my chalkboards. Failing that, at least keep me in classrooms where there actual "boards" (even if they are porcelain enamel whiteboards) upon upon which I can actually write, and erase, as the flow on conversation demands, and without worrying about accidentally making something blow up. At all costs, keep me away from those “smart boards,” in which your ability as a teacher to use the at all board is dependent upon your prior investment in a whole passel of online and embedded doo-dads that are designed to pop up for the students’ viewing pleasure at the barest touch. In such rooms, the possibility that a student question (remember those?) might take the lecture in an unexpected direction, requiring (wait for it) previously unprepared information dependent solely upon the spontaneously expressed expertise of the teacher be shared with the class on the board, is a thing of the past.

End of rant.

4 comments:

David said...

Russell,
Smartboards are great for teaching close reading. You copy the text into Smartnotebook and annotate together with your students. Most have no idea how to annotate a text so it's important to model this essential skill for them.

Smart ideas is great for diagramming arguments. With a minimal amount of practice (less than an hour) you'll be able to easily diagram arguments of great complexity (or have the students do it) and it's a lot easier to move pieces of evidence around.

The problem is that Smart has no idea how good the technologies they have are, and market to the lowest common denominator. Let's chat more about this.

Ricketson said...

I've seen some attempts to mix the best of both worlds. At some meetings, people project onto a whiteboard. Alternatively, there can be a board to the side of the screen.

A few years ago, a presenter had some sort of tablet computer that allowed him to scribble on top of his prepared slides.

Not all is lost.

Derek Bruff said...

Don't lump interactive white boards in with clickers. IWBs seem to be primarily good for enhancing presentations. Clickers, on the other hand, are all about getting students more actively engaged in the learning process.

MH said...

White boards can be tricky. I once watched a professor writing on one during a very active class discussion. The board got full, so he went to the next board. Except the next board was a cloth-covered bulletin board.