All Things Tech & Learning

October 9, 2012

If you have been following my academic exploits, you know that I had not even crossed the stage to collect my first Master’s degree when I started classes in the Master of Arts in Training & Development at Roosevelt University.

This semester I’m taking TRDV450-Learning Technologies:

Oy veysmir, that’s a mouthful! Basically, it is an overview of all things tech and learning.

Recently we were instructed to describe and discuss ‘a type of learning technology from the past or present that does not involve electronics.’

Reading the posts to the discussion forum made me realize that some of my classmates had grown up in an era in which electronic tech in classrooms was the norm. As one student posted: “This particular thread post was really hard for me. It’s super hard for me to remember any learning instrument that I used that didn’t involve technology/electricity.”

Oh sure, when we were growing up we had calculators (remember those bulky TI ‘pocket’ calculators?), projectors (movie, overhead, slide), copiers (Xerox, mimeograph), and so on … back then, computers, cellphones, and tablets were the stuff of Star Trek (c’mon, y’all know I’m a Trekkie!)

I was tickled as I read posts in which my classmates were grappling to describe non-electronic classroom tech – have we come so far that we have forgotten the basics?

“B.E.” – Before Electronics

Let’s see, pencil/pen and paper; chalkboards/white boards and erasers; math tables; slide rules; abaci (yes, it is the correct plural of abacus); using pie plates for fractions; textbooks (the kind with pages and covers); mnemonics (do you know this one: H. HeLiBeBCNOF NeNa MgAl SiPS ClArKCa?); manual typewriters …

What ‘low-tech’ tools did you use to learn?

Does anyone even remember the challenge of writing a research paper? Trudging to the local library with a list of key words, or, if you were lucky, authors and book titles; tackling the card catalog – surely you remember the Dewey Decimal System – and jotting down the book number, title, and author; and wandering the stacks to find your books. (or, when you were really lost, finding the courage to ask the librarian for help…) My eyes were always drawn to the books that weren’t on my list. I can remember sitting on the floor of many a library, surrounded by books and lost in another world while I read about the history of Troy, or the life of Cleopatra, or the stories of the gods – Greek, Roman, Norse, etc. (Why yes, I eventually minored in Classical Civilization.)

Has the e-age made us lazy as learners? Basic skills like spelling, grammar, math, etc. have been diminished by access to electronic crutches like spell check, grammar check and calculators. How many cashiers no longer know how to ‘count back’ change? <sigh>

Give me a book, highlighter, pen and notebook … at least I’ll be able to entertain myself if the power goes out.



One Response to “All Things Tech & Learning”

  1. Berta Moreno

    Too funny! Just the other day, the waitress at a diner could not manage to add my check and the price of a bottle of olive oil I decided to buy at the counter. And, poor clerk at the Jewel keyed in the wrong amount of money being handed to him – and went brain dead – until a supervisor came and woke him up.