Look at the students!

I stumbled (or was guided by the cosmic universe twitterverse) to an old (by today’s standards) piece by Jeff Jarvis.  In this piece Jeff attacks the TED format for maintaining the status quo of the education paradigm…lecture.  Jeff is absolutely right.  However, he misses his own hypocrisy – as most of us miss our own hypocrisy.

Jeff (we) talks about introducing technology, we talk about education reform, yet we talk about putting explanations (lectures) on youtube, or having students Google for information (fact find in a text book).  We need to look carefully at the cognitive demands we are placing on students.  If they are watching a youtube video there is likely little cognitive difference compared to lecture for students.  Furthermore, recording lectures makes lecture even worse because you just reply the lecture instead of trying to make it better the next year.  Importantly, the technology does not cause students to think at higher levels, nor is digital technology a requirement for high levels of student thinking.

We have to stop looking at the things of classrooms.  We need to replace our focus onto the people of education – teachers and students.  We should look to see how the teacher is engaging students in content (an iPad is not content except in a tech course).  We should inquire as to the cognitive expectations being placed on students.  Our materialism (including technology, curricula, buildings, etc) easily distracts us from what I believe ought be the point of education: causing students to think.


*With all this said, I’m not saying “no technology”.  I’m saying “technology use is far from sufficient for effective learning”.

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9 Responses to Look at the students!

  1. Funny, was just reading the same piece!

    I’d agree with you that too much of the focus is still on the shiny tools we’re using. On recorded lectures, though, there is some value in this I feel. When students view material online, a lecture on Youtube for example, they can: watch it in their own time, at their own pace, rewind/repeat parts they don’t understand, watch with who they want.

    As far as not bothering to do a better recording the next time. I give all my students the option of sending me (via google form) anonymous feedback on all my recorded vids/feedback – how I make SURE I’m delivering better every time!


    • jerridkruse says:

      You make some important points about stop, rewind, etc. I imagine recording the live classroom, then providing the video as a resource. This is a “best of both worlds” approach. One thing video can’t do is instantly change direction based on students’ immediate feedback.


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  3. Shawn says:



  4. Dan says:

    Great post. I’m not entirely sure that Jarvis misses his own hypocrisy, though. He ends by telling us the reason he chose to use the very same platform he was deriding was because his ego got in the way. That, in my opinion, is one of the major obstacles many teachers face . . . overcoming their own ego, realizing that they are not the gatekeepers of knowledge (adding to this ego mix we have platforms like Twitter, which I use, while painfully aware of the ego driven aspect of the medium). Upon a second scan of your post, I think I understand where you are coming from with the hypocrisy point – are you suggesting that his point about becoming “curators” of other videos/lectures is really nothing different in that, while perhaps a *better* lecture is shown, it is still a lecture in the end?


    • jerridkruse says:

      Yes, that second part was my point. We should be interacting with students, not curating materials. thanks for the comment!


    • Jeff Jarvis says:

      Thank you, Dan. Yes.

      I was asked to give a talk here. My choice was (a) to do it and note the irony or (b) not to do it. I chose (a).


      • jerridkruse says:

        I’m glad you chose a, but you also talked about using video to capture lectures – a second layer of irony you did not address. I don’t disagree with much of what you said, but if teachers become curators rather than creators, they are not fully engaging with their students.


  5. Pingback: It’s not about the tech, let’s move on … « The Spicy Learning Blog

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