Excerpt of full article on Campus Technology website:
Let Faculty Off The Hook
Why is it taking so long for higher education faculty to adapt to the myriad opportunities made available by information technology and Web 2.0 interfaces and functionalities? Instead of trying to find fault, let’s look for causes.
We early adopters, or at least this specific early adopter, believed in the innovation adoption curve. I therefore expected that the pedagogical (actually andragogical) magic I, and others, discovered years ago in using new technologies would gradually be discovered by other faculty members. We expected, as would be normal according to theory, that mainstream faculty would be using technology as we risk-taking early-adopters did within 10 or 15 years. Wrong. At least not in the big numbers we expected.
It’s now more than 30 years since the introduction of micro-computers. It’s almost 20 years since the Web was created and 6 years since Web 2.0 tools swept the culture and transformed communication and social patterns across the board.
I’ve argued, as have many commentators on technology and higher education, that the evidence for needed changes in teacher-student interaction is so overwhelming, why can’t faculty start to make the change?
The simple answer is we commentators and institutional administrators are asking the impossible. It is one thing to use technology to improve on existing processes–such as e-mail being faster than campus mail and easier to send to many people all at once than printing hundreds of memos–but a very different thing to ask people to invent the e-mail system. Because, by analogy, that’s what we are asking faculty to do. In the following paragraphs, an image of the gantlet against change that is laid down before the faculty will emerge.
Still, and this may be true for many decades to come, most college and university classrooms are designed for teacher presentation; the shape of the room, the acoustical design, control of lighting, lack of sufficient technology in the room, the furniture, security, window treatment, and so on, the space itself screams lecture. Likewise, parent and incoming student expectations have the force of centuries of fixed models about what teaching and learning are supposed to be. Such cultural memes (like physical genes), so ingrained, change ever so slowly.
The assumptions built into classrooms and parents’ and students’ minds find their way into instruments for student evaluation of faculty. Faculty are supposed to be in control and knowledgeable and prepared and, in sum, the same as teachers of 50 years ago. “The teacher of the year” brings to mind an entertaining and smart individual who is confident and sensitive, and who can be heard at the back of the room, and who perhaps has a bit of wit. These are great qualities, but what doesn’t come to mind is a person who has designed a great sequence of activities, helps students address important and challenging problems, and who uses technologies in inventive ways. This kind of teacher does not make for great drama and most likely will not be professor or teacher of the year.