Teaching and Learning Resource Group

8 Feb
design for an instructional technology resources database

26 Jan 2001
thoughts on the Hewlett proposal

15 December
Mid-December office cleaning fragments

14 November
Mid-November Thoughts

19 October
Teaching and Learning Environments in Liberal Arts Education: a matrix of challenges and pilot projects

5 October
Some developing thoughts on Computers in Classrooms

28 September 2000: my agenda

(Since we all have more or less specific interests within the vastnesses of the Committee's charge, I thought it would be useful to try to summarize my own --as much so I'll know what I think in late September 2000 as so you'll know where I'm wandering at the moment. Previous documents along these lines can be seen at www.wlu.edu/~hblackme/fluency/, and my current efforts to put-money-where-mouth-is are at miley.wlu.edu/gis/easia/)
My objectives as a teacher and librarian are to help students and colleagues deal fearlessly and creatively with information across a broad spectrum of media --including print, graphics, and sound; digital and analog; quantitative and qualitative. I find it useful to frame the overall goal as fluency with available tools and resources.

Ubiquitous computers and global networks have changed forever how we teach and learn, and pedagogy in all disciplines and at all levels is scrambling to catch up. A few teachers (but no students) can avoid changing what they do, through obstinacy or irremediable klutziness, but most must, can, and do adapt and evolve. And some embrace new technologies and new possibilities. It is the interests and augmentation of the latter group that the TLRG was convened to address. Although computers are surely at the heart of 'technology in teaching', the machines and their attendant hardware and software problems are not the epicenter of the TLRG's interest. We are primarily concerned with the computer as a communication tool, and with the potentials of electronic media to enhance teaching and learning. Our general task includes identification of the barriers to effective development and promulgation.

I see three tiers of computing-as-communication, each of which presents distinct practical and conceptual difficulties, support challenges for University Computing, and conundrums for the TLRG:

  1. The individual user is relatively well served at the desktop level, and the UC-based infrastructure of network administration, Help Desk consulting, assigned support persons, workshops, and hardware replacement cycles is generally effective (if episodically frustrating). TLRG issues may include improving access to new software and specialized hardware for those who wish to experiment with applications which aren't on the general menu of what is supported by UC or funded from departmental budgets.
  2. Computers as presentation tools (in classrooms and other public settings) offer a number of problems which the TLRG should address, under several rubrics:
  3. Computer classrooms, in which students make hands-on use of computers, are at the frontier of teaching and learning, but are fraught with difficulties and poorly implemented. The model of the 'computer lab' as a teaching venue is appropriate to some tasks and disciplines, but inefficient or worse for others. What other models are there? The TLRG needs to explore what is being done elsewhere and pursue effective local strategies to encourage use and development.
I'm sure that other areas will occur to me as I think and talk about this... the above is just today's sketch of what I think.