marți, 23 septembrie 2014

Academic courses in the 2.0 era

To improve the quality of education and eliminate the lack of interest from students it is necessary to change the way information is presented to the youth. Adapting teaching methods to modern requirements is an issue that should concern every teacher on a personal basis.

Gone are the days when the only source of information was printed literature, most of which was provided by libraries with just a few copies in their collection, and when obtaining them was a real battle. Don’t get me wrong, self-studying in the library had and still has its role in education, but nowadays there are many other opportunities for contemporary information gathering and training.

Students expect to be presented with material in an accessible, interactive way and to feel the usefulness of the information they receive and assimilate. Let's not forget that this is the generation that grew up with computers and the Internet, and was part of many dynamic IT developments in recent years. Now, they are adept at using the available tools and cannot imagine life without them.

Access to teachers’ PowerPoint presentations stored on various electronic media is not something new to students. Pages where the basic idea is explained in a short, concise, visible and catchy was are most appreciated. At the end of a presentation which includes concrete examples, images and video inserts, the students will remain with the information already in place. Personally, I noticed that students appreciate their involvement during the course or at the end of it to find answers to questions about the subject taught. I therefore encourage direct participation and feedback from them every time. So it all starts with how the teacher presents information on what topics receive more emphasis, what subject matter makes all the difference, and how the students will be examined in order to receive a final grade.

Speaking of technological possibilities for gathering information and developing skills: academics from universities across the globe invite students to visit different online applications in preparation of their exams, for the different courses that these teachers teach.

For example, prof. Richard Bailey from the University of Leeds recently stated that the teacher should take into account what students bring to the table in terms of their intellectual baggage. "Those born in the late 80s grew up with internet, email and mobile phone. They arrive at university with an impressive technical knowledge base, are familiar with short messages like SMS, but also with quick searches on Google. At the same time they get bored and stop reading long printed books or texts."

Prof. Thomas Pleil, from the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt (Germany), shared his experience in his PR courses, already using web 2.0 technologies or web 3.0: "Since 2005, my students need to take into account the PR blog of the university. Students should read it, and respond with and to comments. The blog is also used to prepare the courses and the materials that students have to read. Student evaluation is done all by using the format of Wikipedia, now known to all. I made
​​a wiki for students. Students do not write essays in Word and send them to me by email for final assessment. They need to publish this wiki, dedicated and thoroughly researched”. Teachers should insert interactivity in their methods and refresh these in anticipation of the next academic year.

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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