Figuratively Speaking

9hjVhuxI often like to think of myself as the Queen of the Cliche or Dark Mistress of the Analogy. Not in terms of any Stephen Fry-esque use of language, but because I’ve noticed that it’s how I communicate, by and large, on a professional basis. However, having read the following post through before pressing ‘Publish’ I’m going to back-pedal on that first sentence a bit. I’m not as cool as I think I am, and I sound more like Theresa May by the week, with her ‘strong and stable magic money tree’ soundbites and the way her limbs squeak if Team Maybot have forgotten to squirt some WD40 into her joints.  Mine just squeak because I’m old. But let’s return to the subject at hand and my trotting out of paraphrased stock-phrases ad nauseam. Here’s some examples I have used in the last week alone:

‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, And actually, you can’t even lead it to water half the time.’

(Translation: You can tell people about technology, but you can’t make them use it. And much of the time, because they are just too busy or too frightened or too uninterested in technology in the first place, you won’t even get the opportunity to tell them about it.)

‘If you build it, they will NOT come.’

(Translation: If you knew your students had set up their own Facebook group for your course, why did you then set up a group for them on Yammer, and why are you now complaining about how technology doesn’t work because they aren’t using it?)

‘We can’t just switch off the Internet! It’s too late for that!’

(Translation: I know you felt more in control when you were in the ruler of the lecture theatre and in charge of the overhead projector and acetates, but it’s 2017, the world has changed, and our students really do expect more than that, so please try to that accept that and let me help you to move on.)

That last one I used just yesterday, at a programme planning meeting. In 2018 we’re going to be offering some new modules at postgraduate level, and I had been invited by the module directors to deliver a presentation looking at how and why we need to work together to embed technology into these new modules.

Before doing my bit,  the marketing team were talking about how to make these modules more sellable both internationally and locally. ‘What are the School’s USPs?’ asked the team. A member of the teaching team stuck their hand up to offer a suggestion.

‘That we use traditional teaching methods’ said my colleague, ‘and none of this blended learning stuff we keep hearing about.  My entire course is taught completely face to face in the lecture theatre, and I think that this is what my students want and makes my course unique.’

So. Despite a swathe of comments to the contrary made from NSS respondents, I realised again that I am still wading through wet cement and fighting the same battle I’ve been trying to fight for almost 15 years: technology versus tradition. A million questions, suppositions and accusations clamoured for recognition at the front of my brain hole:

‘Thank God your course is unique…but do you think that’s what they want? Have you ever actually asked them…or are you are scared of technology and too proud to admit it…or are you are scared of technology and terrified of being replaced by a robot…or are you are so close to retirement that you just want to carry on coasting along for another 2 or 3 years without being hassled…or are you completely uninterested in technology, and assume that because you are, everyone is?’ And what is it that I haven’t done because clearly I have failed you if you feel this way?’

I delivered my presentation a little later, about how blended learning, e-learning, and micro learning could give these new modules an edge then talked about how respondents to student surveys are crying out for the same things – more lecture capture, a more organised and up to date Virtual Learning Environment, and…yes…because it’s too late to switch off the internet…more technology enhanced learning and an end to didactic lecture-theatre based content 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

I’m not sure whether my message got through, because it’s hard to be heard when the cement mixers keep depositing their warm sludge around your ankles wherever you go. 😉

(BTW: I’ve not forgotten about my ‘why console gaming is great’ series of posts, it’s just that this cropped up and I needed to write it down.)


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