Taking Technology out of School

By Greenberg, Susan H. | Newsweek International, September 28, 2009 | Go to article overview

Taking Technology out of School


Greenberg, Susan H., Newsweek International


Byline: Susan H. Greenberg

When it comes to using technology to foster education, the prevailing wisdom has been that more is better. Over the past decade, universities around the globe have invested heavily in the wired classroom, adding everything from external laptop connections to Blu-ray DVD players. But there is little evidence that these gadgets enhance learning--and, critics argue, they might actually hinder it, making both students and teachers passive. What if classrooms were restored to the pre-Internet days of wooden tables and chalk?

THE IDEA: Take technology out of the classroom. Jose Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Texas, has done just that. He wants his faculty to "teach naked," meaning without the aid of any machines. "Just because you have a PowerPoint presentation doesn't mean you have a good lecture," he argues. Classroom time should be reserved for discussions with the professor, aimed at teaching students to think critically, argue, and raise new questions. In light of the grim economic climate at most universities, he says, shunning new technology is also a sound way to save money.

THE EVIDENCE: Bowen, who teaches music, delivers content via podcasts, which students must listen to on their own time. …

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