• Managing technology in academe



    Part 1
    THERE are among us academics who have been teaching either the master or doctoral levels or both for a number of years. We have seen how technology has influenced our classrooms—the space configuration where tables and chairs no longer were in rows facing the professor’s platform behind which is a blackboard. The new models are desks good for one, two or more students that can be configured into circles or squares, etc. for group discussion as in a class using a seminar format. The sessions last from three to four hours either morning or afternoon; still in some, there could be whole day sessions lasting for six hours. If the class format was to be generally through the reporting method, the professor assigns the topics based on the syllabus to students or groups of students during the first session. The professor introduces the course, the course requirements, attendance policy and other such matters to make the course implementation as smooth as possible. Topics assigned students during the first session based on the syllabus are presented during the next sessions as calendared.

    Technology for report presentation. Decades ago students had their reports handwritten usually on long pad. Then came the time when, instead of pad paper, students outlined their oral reports on note cards. When typewriters were more available, student reports were neatly typed. Along with this technology was an age-old method especially in graduate school — the reporting method. With the power point application coming to academe, assigned students use this software to present their respective topics. I have some comments on the use of the power point but would reserve this meanwhile. Indeed, technology has influenced teaching and learning in all levels of education, in graduate classrooms, no less.

    Technology – soft and hard. Technology is man-made. By technology, we refer to both the soft and hard. Web sources define soft technology as that which cannot function without human enactment. A web source gives the needle as an example of soft technology. A needle needs a person to make it operate; the refrigerator is hard technology; it can work on its own. About computer programs, the software won’t operate, unless there is human enactment on the hardware. I am not completely sold on this differentiation. In my view, soft technology would refer to human concepts such as methods, techniques, procedures, computer applications or programs that can come to fore only through human enactment. But let us leave this to experts to supply a better distinction. We proceed to the impact of technology in Philippine classrooms. We need to manage this technology to our advantage.

    The mimeographing machine and photocopier. While these technologies came in the 1940s and 1950s respectively in the UK, they came 20 years later to our provinces. The popular medium on which typewritten material was to be reproduced using the mimeograph machine was the stencil. “The copies were created by manually cranking the ink-filled drum which forced the ink through a stencil and onto the paper.”<http://www.ourict.co.uk/technology-education-history/>Students received mimeographed copies of lectures either before or after the lecture is presented. If copies were distributed ahead, students would scribble their own notes on these copies during the lecture. When the chalk and blackboard were the ubiquitous pair for teaching, we may not have noticed that students frenziedly took down notes on thick notebooks or on pads of lined paper, books borrowed for a day or a week from the library by their side. Later, Xerox introduced the photocopier; it was much easier for both students and teachers to have copies made of needed reference material. Students would photocopy parts of books for their in-class reading and for their assignments. Later came new models of photocopiers with colored ink, producing duplicates that matched the original. With mimeographing and photocopying services easily available, students wrote less notes; notebooks became thinner, replaced by folders that assured a well-kept file of the mimeographed or photocopied material collected every class session.

    The overhead projector. Time was that in provincial universities, the omnipresent chalk and blackboard duo was slowly replaced by the overhead projector. Widely used in classrooms in the 1980s,the overhead projector provided teachers with “a more convenient alternative to the blackboard.” Notes or the lecture outline on the transparencies were reflected on a screen. However, as needed during the lecture, the professor could write important terms or notations using a Pentel pen on the reusable transparency. <http://www.ourict.co.uk/technology-education-history/> (As an aside, Yukio Horie, company president of Pentel until his death in 2010, invented the fiber- or felt-tipped pen in the 1960s more known in Singapore and Malaysia as marker pens.)<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marker_pen>Like rows of soldiers, graduate students sat before the projector or in circular groups, as the professor explained his/her scripts on the transparencies.

    Films, the microfilm viewer, videotapes and recorder. When these gadgets were availed of in classroom instruction, lectures were tape- recorded. There were also visual-related sessions – filmviewing, individual filmstrips using the microfilm viewer usually available in the graduate school library. Students who could afford them would bring their own tape recorders. I heard once that a professor absent from his class had the class listen to his taped lecture instead. Visiting the class, the academic dean saw a tape recorder on the professor’s table and a tape recorder on each chair.

    Obviously, evolving hard technology does influence the soft methods, techniques, processes, etc. that impact on teaching and learning.

    (Next week: The desktop computer and the Internet)

    Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph


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