Magazine article The Catalyst

Editor's Page

Magazine article The Catalyst

Editor's Page

Article excerpt

It was fifteen years ago that the Wingspread Group on Higher Education offered a concise statement on the implications of change in academia and what had to be accomplished for change to be successful:

Putting learning at the heart of the academic enterprise will mean overhauling the conceptual, procedural, curricular and other architecture of postsecondary education on most campuses.

Hastening the potential for that overhaul was the emergence of information technology as an essential building block of institutional infrastructure. The impact of the Internet on instruction is also demonstrably clear in recent years.

One would think that by now technology would be widely accepted in higher education, and with understandable differences varying among curricula, I believe that is true. Yet I suspect that, even today, to challenge the primacy of the classroom and the lecture method is to challenge not only a location, but also those who reside and teach in it. For many faculty, the classroom is a familiar and comforting environment. As William M. Plater observed in 1995: "The metaphor of the classroom is a powerful one - the most basic and fundamental unit of academic life."

Plater also went on to say that because of technology, the sanctity of the classroom and the authority of the teacher in it was about to be turned inside out.

In Plater's view, readily available access to information meant that the traditional classroom may have has lost its place of primacy as the central location where knowledge was acquired. This, in turn, could force educators to rethink the teacher-student relationship and the traditional geography that housed it. Technology allows the expansion of instructional design principles and practices, which in turn allows faculty to employ a variety of presentational styles to match multiple learning styles. But the place in which teacher and student come together needs to provide the flexibility to match presentational styles with learning styles. …

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