Students arent what they used to be.....
We seem to be seeing what Americ Azevedo at Berkeley saw a few years back - look up his podcast, "Time, technology and disappearing students"
Even highly motivated students in Ivy league institutions make value judgments about the merit of attendance at lectures. Those judgments might cause "lecturers" to redefine themselves
I should have 179 students in my lectures. I am, by some accounts, an OK lecturer; evals are good, unit average is 60% etc.. I even smash mobile phones with a hammer to liven things up!
I teach the internet and I'm "where it's at" - so the material tunes in.
Out of 180 students - I'm lucky to get 30 by mid semester...
Many of my lectures are supplemented (not replaced) by screencasts.. quizzes outside (on a Moodle) check engagement. The notes on the Moodle are digested during the lectures. I require the students to mindmap the ideas I talk through during the lectures. The poor things aren't good with pens...
I talk well, present with energy and enthusiasm and scatter my lectures with personal insight, humor and memorable anecdotes. I even dress well -I like sharp Italian suits)...
Check my Facebook.. they love me..
BUT THEY WON'T TURN UP TO MY LECTURES!!!
In truth I don't think the bulk of staff are adapting. The difference between a good unit average and a bad one - is no longer attendance - but the quality of e-learning provision..
These students are different in the way they collect, assimilate and digest information. I challenge you to find an 18 year old who does complain of writers cramp/RSI after having been detached from his keyboard and forced to write out a single page of A4 long hand...;)
I'm wondering if we need to rethink not just lectures but the entire structure of higher education.
Do we need large lecture halls? Would we be better served with smaller classrooms and more laboratories?
Do we need to have "facilitators" leading classes rather than the professors? Focus the in-person time on the things in-person does best - discussions, labs, and other activities where physical proximity is useful. Many of the professors I know would be perfectly happy focusing on research and being subject matter experts rather than teaching.
Can we use the tenured professors for online discussion and oversight of content? This may take care of the issue of students expecting interaction with top experts.
Should we develop 2 tracks for tenure? One facilitator-focused and the traditional research track? What do we need to do to establish equitable "respect levels" for the excellent facilitators as for the researchers?
What type of support personnel would we need?
I know our university's increasing focus on 24/7 access of information and seamless wireless access is just one indicator of an attempt to adapt to student expectations. But what else do we need to think about? What should higher education look like? Should the face-to-face lecture die?