by ROBERT VANDERBURG and MICHAEL COWLING

Multiple universities have announced the replacement of lectures in 2022 with an assortment of technological teaching resources ranging from screencasts to podcasts to recorded discussions. The PVC (Students) of University of Sunshine Coast (USC) said, “We are taking the best of what we’ve learned during the pandemic to provide students with what they have asked for via their feedback.”

USC is not alone in proceeding down this path, with Murdoch University having proposed the same, and Curtin University also having floated the idea (before backtracking!). But do these unis understand the technological needs of the current generation, or are they throwing the pedagogical baby out with the technologically unenhanced bathwater?

First off, the current generation doesn’t want screencasts, isn’t interested in snipped on-line videos, and only listens to two-hour long podcasts when they are hosted by Joe Rogan. According to a report commissioned by Prezi in 2018 , today’s youth are super selective of their content, looking for something either super-long and detailed (a two-hour Twitch stream), or super short (a TikTok video).

Second, the assertion that lectures are the rationale for poor student outcomes misses the mark, especially given some lecture experiences can be interactive. Replacing disengaging, non-interactive human-led lectures with non-interactive podcasts and recorded discussions doesn’t increase the level of interaction.

The old generation’s interpretation of a new pedagogy, while appearing tech savvy, is in no way more engaging or effective. In fact, during the pandemic, lecturers have experienced a reduction in students’ engagement with technology-only instruction, because there is no human element to which the student feels connected.

Why should students spend up to $14,500 a year for an education their university is outsourcing to the internet? Students could stay home watching Ted talks, listening to podcasts, finding quizzes on-line, and saving lots of money. In fact, students appear to feel that if the lecturer does not have to attend, then they do not have to attend either.

The National Tertiary Education Union agrees, stating that “the claim traditional lectures did not work was inaccurate and an insult to staff and the work they had done to this point”.  In addition, dropping in-person lectures has been shown in the US to hinder the learning of students with disabilities.

The end game for the brave new (technological) world without lectures will be apathetic students staring at screens or refusing to attend on-line classes lacking humans. And it will mean a reduction of the hidden curriculum developed by human interactive learning experiences: respecting authority, respect for other students opinions, punctuality, aspiring to achieve, and having a work ethic.

With the 2022 academic year approaching, it remains to be seen if students will forever live on their computers or if educators will listen to their students and provide an education where students learn from experts in the field.

Dr. Robert Vanderburg, Senior Lecturer – Education, College of Education, CQUniversity, r.vanderburg@cqu.edu.au, @Dr_Tw3nty

A/Prof. Michael Cowling, Associate Professor – ICT, College of Information and Communication Technology, CQUniversity, m.cowling@cqu.edu.au, @macowling

 


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