A Technological Cloud Hangs Over Higher Education – Instructor as Multimedia Rainmaker!

Dear Commons Community,

Keith A. Williams, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Virginia, has a commentary  in the Chronicle of Higher Education on instructional technology.  While acknowledging  many of the benefits that technology has brought to teaching and learning, he also laments that we are losing something.   His observation:

“It is virtually miraculous how much information the laptops, tablets, and phones can bring into the classroom, almost free of cost. A steady torrent of fresh information has transformed the classroom. Gone or concealed in dust are most periodic tables, encyclopedias, and globes. All of that can now be called up on a screen.

The whole apparatus of instruction has moved into the cloud…Whether we need the YouTube video of the astronaut dropping a hammer and feather on the moon or Newton’s Principia translated, narrated, or lectured, we delight in using Google to retrieve it quickly from the cloud.

And so the instructor is the multimedia rainmaker who summons from the cloud everything that the modern American scholar must learn. The student is spared the necessity of a library; the library is in the cloud. Lecture demonstrations are also in the cloud, in the form of flashlets and applets sanitized of any complicating realities, non-idealities, and inefficiencies. And if a student should miss a lecture, the cloud will oblige: The student need no longer request notes from an instructor or colleague. Everything is in the cloud—even some of the most popular instructors. And that cloud hangs over all of America’s institutions of higher education.”

Food for thought!


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