‘Teach Naked’ and complacency natives

‘Teach Naked’ Effort Strips Computers From Classrooms – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This is one of the stories where you have to actually read the whole thing. At first you think, “Terrific, another educator who hates technology and refuses to join the 21st century.”

College leaders usually brag about their tech-filled “smart” classrooms, but a dean at Southern Methodist University is proudly removing computers from lecture halls. José A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, has challenged his colleagues to “teach naked”—by which he means, sans machines.

But you would be wrong – read a bit more. He’s not really against technology, he’s against being boring, especially being boring with PowerPoint. He thinks when students come together, the best thing to do is have a conversation. Let the students read the material, or listen to a podcast ahead of time. Use class time to talk, ask questions, and interact with the teacher and other students.

Even though he is taking computers out of classrooms, he’s not anti-technology. He just thinks they should be used differently—upending the traditional lecture model in the process.

Aha! He’s talking about pedagogy, not tools. He’s against lecturing, with or without slideshow accompaniment. And guess who he has to convince about this — yes, those digital natives, the students. Because what they really are is complacency natives. They are used to waiting passively to be told what to learn, how to learn, and then repeating it back.

But he’s taking computers out of the classrooms! Oh no! Evil! But wait, keep reading. He’s removing the fixed computers hooked to projectors. And buying laptops instead. And unbolting the desks and replacing them with movable chairs and tables so the teachers and students can adapt their classroom to suit their learning needs. Oh, hmm… not so crazy.

It’s a great lesson in the sloppy vocabulary of the ed tech world. All “technology” is not created equal. It’s not a technology = good, removing it = bad. We have to be more precise about this. What’s the learning environment? What do you believe about learning? How is technology supporting those goals?

Teach naked? Ok, got to give the guy credit for coming up with something catchy. Getting attention for advocating doing away with lecture is OK in my book. A worthy goal for K-12 would be to produce students who aren’t complacency natives, who arrive at college ready for deep discussion, real learning, and meaningful interactions with other human beings.


4 Replies to “‘Teach Naked’ and complacency natives”

  1. Thanks for this article! I think it’s extremely important that we be cautious in how we introduce technology in the classroom. I’m as much an advocate for using technology to teach whenever possible, but we have to recognise the pitfalls of introducing tech for tech’s sake.

    My school is a SmartBoard showcase school, which means we have IWBs in every classroom, along with FrontRow sound systems. Some people simply update their OHP sheets for the Smartboards, and many do not use the full potential of the tech (I include myself in there). I’ve seen dozens of the pendant mics hanging on the wall because the teacher is uncomfortable with the sound of their own voice amplified, and that leaves aside the potential to connect nearly every device that plays audio to these surround-sound speakers.

    The dean above seems to have the right idea of not simply converting old models of teaching to new technology, but actually using the technology to its potential, and changing the teaching to match what is able to be done in modern classrooms. Kudos to him!

  2. This is inline with the “out of the box” thinking we need in education today, especially with education technology. Get laptops, iPod Touches or iPhones, Android phones into the seats where students can quickly research answers to questions asked or respond to what is going on in class and students are learning in a meaningful way.

  3. I’ve been confusing my “Clay’s an edtech evangelist” admin at 1:1 roll-out meetings with this kind of argument. I’d much rather have students listen to podcasts at home in history, for example, and come to school ready to work on applying it–often without tech.

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