Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/frankula/5824384458/sizes/m/in/photostream/
The internet and technology are here to stay. I firmly believe that as teachers we must choose to embrace them or we will be left out in the cold. The landscape of education is constantly changing. We are called to be agile and adaptable. Still, I continue to encounter faculty members that refuse to adopt new technologies and teaching methods in the classroom. I can’t speak for them, but I can tell you why I can sometimes be resistant.
1) Time. It takes time to learn something new and to build new curriculum. For example, right now I am trying to find time to learn how to use Camtasia. We downloaded it over a week ago and I still haven’t found the time to sit down and play with it. I have every intention of implementing video podcast lectures next semester, but I have to make time in between advising students, grading papers, and writing exams. I would venture to say that time is my primary barrier to adopting new technologies.
2) Lack of inertia. Sometimes as educators we like to coast along. We put a lot of time and energy into developing lectures and classroom activities. Once we find an approach that works well we have the tendency to relax a little as we get settled into a routine. In can be very hard to find the motivation to push outside of that comfort zone. I have spent many long hours building my course curriculum. My first semester teaching was incredibly stressful and I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. Now that I have taught the same two courses for a couple of semesters, I finally feel like I am finding my stride. Each time I try something new, it disrupts my rhythm and introduces new stresses. Personally, I find a certain amount of change necessary to prevent boredom, but I can see how attractive it can be to just teach the same course every term without changing. It can be easy to just coast along.
3) Fear of failure. Trying something new is exciting but it is also a little nerve racking, no matter the context. You never know if something new is going to work fantastically or fall completely flat. You can run the risk of preventing learning rather promoting it. I don’t want technology to be a distraction. As an undergraduate student, I had a biochemistry instructor that was big into student directed and project based learning. She was very eager to try out new teaching methods. Unfortunately, I don’t think I learned much about biochemistry that semester. I did, however, learn how to code in HTML. This experience is always in the back of my mind as I consider using a new approach in my classes. I want to be sure that I am not making the same mistakes. Sometimes I think this limits my openness to new ideas.
The traditional lecture format has worked for centuries, why change? Because our students have changed. The world has changed. We must change too. We must overcome our own doubts and shortcomings to best serve our students.