TWENTY-FIRST century information technology (IT) provides us increased learning gains while at the same time learning can be fun depending on how we utilize this technology. Availability of Wi-Fi services to teachers and learners in and outside of campuses offers a variety of instructional approaches considering various learning styles of students which nowadays is more visual whether instruction occurs in real or virtual time. IT makes possible more contact between teacher and learner, an easier access to study materials, submission of course assignments and development of learners’ ability for independent study. Various web applications, office software suites for word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, email applications, video technology, Aviary, icloud, CD-Roms and a host of other applications – all these can respond to students’ interests and raise the level of learning as well. However, over-use of such apps could in themselves distract students from their studies.
In the initial years of IT, my graduate students used power point to present oral reports. I noticed that reports were mere “cut and paste” products. Also, fonts used were the fancy types and written on backgrounds that made the text difficult to read, such us blue text against a purple background. When animation apps were available, there was over-use of motion. Images to embellish the slides did not have any relation to the text on the slide. We sought an intervention from the IT department – for students to be taught proper use of power-point and appropriate presentation apps. On the part of our class, we coached students how to outline the report instead of the cut-and-paste of journal articles or book excerpts etc. They synthesized lectures in outline form marking a principal concept with a bullet instead of having complete sentences. They were taught where to secure images proper to the text on the slides – which helped them present their ideas loud and clear. Learning proper slide preparation also developed their creativity, a sensitivity to harmony of text, sound and color. Along with this related learning on slide presentation, they prepared side by side a text of their report using word. Later, they advanced in their digital utilization by including notes below the slides. Obviously, such learning responds to the higher levels of cognition (analysis, synthesis and creativity), the affective level shows in their feeling of accomplishment; the psychomotor domain, in their “fingertip dexterity.”
To have a “global reach,” I had the students use the email. One such example is a graduate course in Philosophy of Management where students were to email a guru in any field of expertise, introduce themselves, the school and the course title and finally request a response to this query: Ïn your experience as a successful entrepreneur (or bank/university president, lawyer, government department secretary, etc) what ethical dilemmas have you come across and how were these resolved? Given earlier in the term, this assignment reaped responses from the gurus after several weeks, thus enabling spirited class discussions.
To maximize learning, group work may be utilized for this assignment. Group students by field of expertise of responding gurus. (gurus from academe, from banking and finance, business, government, church ministries, etc). Have each group synthesize approaches which gurus used in resolving ethical dilemmas they have met. Next, have the students determine the philosophy/ies which anchor said approaches. Have the groups compare the similarities and differences in the approaches used by the different clusters of gurus. Is there a recurrent philosophy that usually anchors approaches of a cluster of gurus? Can similarities or differences be explained in the context of the fields represented by the gurus? What proposition or theory may be developed from this exercise?
At this point, the term “theory” may need to be defined. Since students usually bring a laptop or i-pod, ask them what a theory is. Miriam-Webster defines a theory “as an idea/set of ideas intended to explain facts or events”; or an “idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true” or “the general principles or ideas that relate to a particular subject.” A theoretical proposition is an abstract statement about the relationship between two variables and is not directly observable. In the above example, the variables are the different approaches, philosophies and the fields represented by the gurus. Is there a relationship between the variables? What kind of relationship and is it significant and at what level? Which variable if any, mediates?
Similarly, students choose a research abstract on a topic closely related to their course, write the author introducing themselves as graduate students, their school, the subject enrolled in, and raise some points/give comments on a particular aspect of the research. Most authors respond and several sent the complete report through a hyperlink. A respiratory therapist student wrote the author who happened to be vice-president of an international association of respiratory therapists. After a series of email exchange of comments and reflections based on an extended summary of the research the author sent, the author invited the student to the coming international conference giving the student privilege of free registration (including meals and hotel). Another case was a student who consequently was offered a job. Another author offered to serve as reference for the student to take up a postgraduate degree where the author held a professorial post. Email interchange and the lessons from these illustrate the varied gains from “global reach.”
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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, Ph.D., is one of the Philippines most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is now the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education.