Adaptation and Choice

PIDP 3240 – Media Enhanced Learning
Vancouver Community College
Kathryn Truant
November 24, 2017

Objective:

In Teaching Naked – How Moving Technology Out of Your Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (2012), author and educator José Antonio Bowen suggests that,

“The most important things we want to teach are best taught in the classroom. Getting faculty to learn new technology or redesign curriculum are means to an end: everything we do should be designed around fostering better and more meaningful student-faculty interaction. If we are not focused on enhancing the experience of learning in every way, then we should get online and start selling frozen food” (p. 266).

In this statement, Bowen uses a comparison between buying food from an online frozen food supplier instead of a local farmer, as a simile for the comparison between choosing online education instead of face to face on-campus classroom interaction.

Reflective:

I argue that unless post-secondary institutions adapt to the constantly evolving technical revolution, they will become like the dodo bird. The dodo bird’s sanctuary and way of life was interrupted when humans arrived on the shores of their previously uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean in 1598.  Within 80 years, the dodos were extinct; their name has become synonymous with being ‘foolish’ because they trusted the newcomers. The dodos did not have the adaptation skills necessary for survival: they had no fear of humans, and they could not protect their eggs that lay in nests on the ground from the animals/predators that had accompanied the humans (Smallwood, 2013). I feel bad for the dodos because they were not being foolish, they were simply not permitted the opportunity to adapt. Higher education has a choice.

Bowen discusses the music industry and its struggle with near extinction. Packaging and delivery of music has changed from hard copy storage sold in offline retail stores to digital files that can be shared, downloaded or streamed on the internet. Distribution disintegrated; record stores closed (Bowen, 2012). At the height of this technological transition, anyone with an internet connection could listen to music for free. But unlike the dodo bird, the music industry has adapted and thrived. The music industry survived because executives acknowledged the demise of ‘offline’ retail stores, and discovered ways to prevent free file sharing by having the creators of the music sue and subsequently shut down free file sharing companies like Napster (Wikipedia, 2017).

Interpretive: 

What the music industry and post-secondary institutions share is the hardware required to apply and advance their technology: iPods, tablets, smartphones and personal computers. In the documentary, The Defiant Ones (Hughes, 2017), record producer Jimmy Iovene finds ways to exploit the new technology. Iovene knew that the internet had changed the music industry forever, and that free file sharing was destined to ruin it. He was instrumental in the creation of Apple Music© which began offering subscription services to digital music files. Other music subscription services now include Spotify© and Amazon Prime Music©. Artists are getting paid, and live performances only enhance the business.

In my opinion, post-secondary institutions and their practitioners need to follow suit and adapt to new and constantly evolving technology for survival as well, and that includes more than just fostering in-classroom engagement. The choice of classes offered online will advance an institution by attracting a wider demographic of students, like myself, who choose to be life-long learners but cannot always attend on-campus classes. Without this adaptation, “teaching naked,” as Bowen (2012) describes, might not survive.

Decisional:

Bowen argues that face to face instruction is the best way to foster meaningful student-teacher interaction. I believe that it’s all about choice. The dodo bird was not permitted the luxury of choosing to adapt, but the music industry and higher education do have a choice. I love music. I love listening to music. I love live music, and I appreciate the sound quality of a digital recording, and an LP record. Just because internet music is now the standard, this does not mean that I can no longer listen to, or purchase LP’s, or go and see my favourite artist perform live. I have adapted to new technology, and I can still enjoy the old analog technology.

I also love learning. I love to take online classes like this one: PIDP 3240, which is only offered online. And, I appreciate a face to face learning environment as well, such as PIDP 3220, which is only offered on-campus. Post-secondary institutions cannot ignore the internet, just like the music industry could not ignore it, and just like the dodo bird could not ignore human encroachment (and we know what happened to them). An analog culture can exist efficiently and effectively with a digital one. I cannot adopt Bowen’s assumption that face to face is a superior method of learning, at least not without using the internet as an amazing tool that will, in my opinion, continue to enhance my own personal learning and instructing experiences.

I will continue to take online courses that develop my professional practice. For example, MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses), are “free online courses for anyone to enroll. MOOC’s provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences” (mooc.org, 2017). There is currently a course being offered called, Health Professional Teaching Skills, delivered by the University of Toronto (edx.org, 2017). As a dental assistant who is learning to be an instructor, this course is specific to my vocation. There is also a MOOC being offered called, StudioX: Creating a Course with edX Studio, that teaches you how to construct an online course on any topic (edx.org, 2017). I hope that the fact that these courses are free does not affect their quality. Even Harvard offers MOOC’s! Further, enrolling in free online courses, will foster my mission of being a life-long learner. Expanding the classroom to include and promote computerized technology in an online platform, is as meaningful and educational to me as an in-class experience, because I can learn and develop my professional practice from my computer by learning skills to advance my instruction suited around my schedule. I hope that all institutions of higher education will adapt to the internet age and recognize the value of providing learners the option of a flexible and meaningful educational environment.

@ Please refer to my Resources page for works cited