Reaching the Last Technology Holdouts at the Front of the Classroom – Chronicle of Higher Education

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Reaching the Last Technology Holdouts at the Front of the Classroom 1

Rick Friedman for The Chronicle

Chris Dede, a professor of learning technologies at Harvard U., helped write the Department of Education’s new National Educational Technology Plan, which challenges educators to leverage modern technology to create engaging learning experiences for students.

By Jeffrey R. Young

Every semester a lot of professors’ lectures are essentially reruns because many instructors are too busy to upgrade their classroom methods.

That frustrates Chris Dede, a professor of learning technologies at Harvard University, who argues that clinging to outdated teaching practices amounts to educational malpractice.

“If you were going to see a doctor and the doctor said, ‘I’ve been really busy since I got out of medical school, and so I’m going to treat you with the techniques I learned back then,’ you’d be rightly incensed,” he told me recently. “Yet there are a lot of faculty who say with a straight face, ‘I don’t need to change my teaching,’ as if nothing has been learned about teaching since they had been prepared to do it—if they’ve ever been prepared to.”

And poor teaching can have serious consequences, he says, when students fall behind or drop out because of sleep-inducing lectures. Colleges have tried several approaches over the years to spur teaching innovation. But among instructors across the nation, holdouts clearly remain.