Teaching Without Technology

By Katie Ash — July 28, 2009 1 min read
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There’s a long article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about stripping technology out of classrooms to better engage students. Jose A. Bowen, the dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, has begun to promote “teaching naked"—or teaching without technology in the classroom.

Although there is a definite focus on higher education in this article, it has major implications for the K-12 classroom as well. Bowen’s main beef with technology seems to be specifically with PowerPoint, which he claims many teachers use as a crutch, rather than an effective teaching tool. Class time should be reserved for group discussion, says Bowen, not for displaying information that could be downloaded later, such as a PowerPoint presentation or lecture.

Those who are made most uncomfortable by Bowen’s teaching style are the students. They’ve become used to the passive lecture method of teaching and aren’t used to actively participating during a 50-minute class, says the article, although Bowen claims that once students see the effects of group discussions vs. lectures, they become less bored and more engaged.

While I can see how PowerPoint might facilitate a passive style of learning, there are many other technologies that require active participation from students, and I wonder what Bowen thinks of those. Having students record their own podcasts and upload them to a class blog is a much different experience than walking students through a series of PowerPoint slides. Ultimately, I think it comes back to the idea that it’s not about the technology, but how that technology is used and implemented in the classroom.

What do you think? Does relying too heavily on technology in the classroom make students passive learners? Or do you find that incorporating technology into lessons better engages students?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.