Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog


Faculty 2.0
September 19, 2007, 12:01 am
Filed under: Articles

I just read another great article in the Educause Review. It’s simply entitled “Faculty 2.0“.

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What caught my eye is this opening statement: “Much has been written recently about the Net Generation-the generation that makes up the majority of students attending U.S. colleges and universities-but relatively little attention has been given to the college and university faculty who teach them.

In this article there are several elements and comparisons of how the role of the professor is changing and the suggestion that often the change is related to the focus of the faculty member’s teaching philosophy. The most cited example is that of teaching becoming less teacher-centered and more learner-centered. The article has an excellent table that highlights and compares these two approaches (See Table 1).

I do wonder if faculty feel comfortable with the notion that they may be considered novices rather than experts, as the article suggests that “Most faculty members are experts in their respective disciplines, and as teachers, they expect to be regarded as such. Confronting new and unfamiliar technologies can quickly turn them into novices, and with technically savvy Net Generation students in their classes, the may find that their students know much more about specific technologies than they do, creating a balance-of-power shift…”

I also think that it is important to look at our own communication styles and paradigms. Many Net Gen students communicate with instant messaging and mobile text messaging, whereas, some faculty may only really “understand” email as a method of communication. I think it’s helpful to meet students where they are. Which is a phrase that Garry Brand often uses here at GRCC.

Informal learning outside-of-the-classroom often requires a new level of understanding by some faculty. There is a vast array of online discipline related information which creates a possible conflict with perhaps a view by some that all course content is delivered only during the class period, or perhaps a paper textbook. Whereas, there are many opportunities for courseware such as online course materials, web sites, and reference materials in secure online databases to be distributed OUTSIDE of the classroom, for example, through external links inside of a course management system like Blackboard. Or even shared among users in social bookmarking sites such as Blackboard Scholar.

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Blackboard Scholar Screenshot

Time shifting is another point that is mentioned by the article. Such that traditional office hours and class time is being spread over a larger time period with the use of course management systems like Blackboard, email, and instant messaging. This can be a struggle for faculty that are not used to electronic communication coupled with the expectations that students assume that everything is online.

While we are all in this technological revolution together (from the innovators, to early adopters, to the early majority, to the laggards), I think Steve Ehrman says it best, as quoted in the article: “Academic programs could do much better if they helped their faculty become the best at a) finding and adapting best practice from peers who teach similar courses, and b) sharing their own best practices with the world.” I might also mention that faculty could share across disciplines as well. In fact, this reminds me of a special session that we organized through the Learning Academy last year. It was called the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Showcase. This event’s purpose is to begin to do just that, highlight and reward faculty that are doing excellent work while also creating conversations and sharing around the possibilities that technology can bring to teaching and learning.


1 Comment so far
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Great post Eric! I think we need to move from being learner-centered to being more learning-centered. This is true with technology too. Faculty shouldn’t move to new tools just because students are using them. Instead, they should move toward technologies that help them learn.

Comment by gbrand




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