Tag Archives: education

Reflections on the brilliance of Jim Flynn and my own teaching this week.

27 Sep


I’ve just finished watching an excellent new TED talk (above) from one of my intellectual heroes, Jim Flynn, and it’s made me reflect both on the brilliance of Flynn and on my our teaching experience this week. (For anyone interested in rational thinking Flynn’s work show be required reading).

In the video Flynn presents his work on the phenomena of IQ increases across the 20th century and it’s consequences in his usual thorough and engaging style, and without the aid of any of the technology that we ‘modern’ teachers have come to rely on. This made me really think about my own teaching experience this week. I taught the first session of my rational thinking course this week and had one of those disaster-ridden days when the IT provision decided not to work. Whilst I hope it didn’t effect the students experience too much I found the whole session fairly stressful. On reflection , it wasn’t the teaching that stressed me, but rather the absence of my technological ‘crutch’.

It’s intriguing that ‘chalk and talk’ has become something of an insult in modern higher education pedagogy and yet Jim Flynn demonstrates that you don’t even need the ‘chalk’ for perfect teaching. I’m not sure that any of this will completely ween me off my technology addiction, but at the very least then next time a teaching a session that involves just me talking and the students listening I wont be ashamed of it.

Laptops in Lectures – Help or hinderance ?

18 Apr

I’ve just come across a paper that seems like a great way to stimulate class discussion, and to encourage students to think rationally. Get a group of academics together and you will find wildly differing opinion on student use of electronic devices during lectures. Some will see this as ‘the future’ and not worth trying to hold back the tide, whereas others will see is as an excuse for students to play ‘Angry Birds’ or update their Facebook status, and thus something to be banned from lecture rooms. Students will undoubtedly have equally vehement views on the use of laptops/iPads in lectures. This alone ought to be a good prompt for debate, but it becomes more interesting when you throw in some research.

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 16.16.33

This is a recently published piece of research suggests that use of laptops in lectures is actively detrimental to learning. It would be interesting to give this to students and see what they make of it. Two things immediately jumped out at me when I read the paper this morning. Firstly it was done with a very small class size (I wonder how easily it would replicate with 300 students ?) and secondly the participants had no incentive to be learning the material presented in the study (so can we really extrapolate to ‘real world learning situations ?).

This paper ought to appeal to students irrespective of the discipline they are studying, and it would be interesting to see what they make of it. I have to admit to secretly worrying what my less technically literate colleagues will make of it 😉

%d bloggers like this: