How many of you knew Lucinda Roy? (I didn’t). How many of you know her now? Probably a lot more.
Our educational institutions were already in a deep crisis and didn’t need a mass killing to help sort things out. But in the midst of a senseless, heart-breaking and deeply troubling tragedy, Lucinda Roy, black, British and a successful writer is the “professor” who out of concern volunteered to handle Cho Seung-Hui face to face in an attempt to penetrate his shell.
Her heroism, which unfortunately took her only as far as the system would allow (raising major questions and boding ill for the future) is matched by her wisdom concerning the use of technology. I refer all of you to this delightful interview about technology in education:
Here are just a few of the key points:
One thing I've learned from this online interaction is that the ways in which we speak to each other [online] are very different from the way we would speak if we were face to face. Students working online are often much more informal early in the semester. Most teachers who love tutorials really love online interaction if it's designed well. You can have the kinds of dialogue you would not normally have in a public space.
We can all draw our own conclusions (and probably already have) about the value of informality!
You cannot learn to write unless you write. When the only channel of communication you have is the online channel, it is amazing how much people will write.
Expression and output are the principal means of learning, not listening and taking notes.
If you have a class of 300 to 400, you cannot teach well using all this interactive technology unless you are also going to build in some personal support behind it. You cannot imagine that you can answer all those queries well and improve the quality of education if you're the only person doing it. It's very frustrating. We do need to think about how anyone experimenting with this new environment has the kind of personnel support that they need. I don't think we do very well at it.
It’s all about organization and responsibility in encouraging and orientating dialogue.
I throw in the next point because I thought it culturally significant and worth reflecting on. Why doesn’t education help us to see what we ingest?
One of the things I see is people selecting from this menu in the cafeteria and making a plate that's so ugly, you really wouldn't want to eat it.
The last one I think no one has any trouble recognizing.
It's confusing also because there are a lot of people suddenly involved in the education process who have their own agendas. Some are from the corporate world and really want to push a particular kind of software as the answer to everything.
Read the interview. And be like me: try to find out more about this amazing woman!
P.S. The interview dates from 1998. She was a pioneer.