Moving Forward

Geoffrey H. Fletcher This month's Campus Technology conference will delve into the future of teaching and learning in a digital world.

When I was a faculty member in the ed school at Miami University (OH) back in the early '80s, I struggled to keep my students engaged in ways that have a strange resonance with themes that weave throughout this year's Campus Technology conference, to be held in Boston at the end of this month.

For example: "Immersive education" was taking students to a lab school and having them observe firsthand the interactions of teachers and learners. "Interactive media" was pausing a video tape of a teacher in action and asking students what the teacher should say at critical points in a lesson. "Student collaboration" was having students work in small groups to design lessons.

Were we "envisioning the future" (as we promise to do at our 16th annual conference)? A bit, at least in terms of pedagogical progress. But thinking back to those early days should give heart to even the most impatient of us (and I include myself in that group) that innovations in technology have indeed brought us a very long way in a short time-- even for today's digital generation.

Contrast my bit of teaching history with sessions you will encounter in Boston July 27-30:

  • How immersive education is breaking down barriers of time, space, and distance through 3D and virtual environments, to allow communication and collaboration across levels of education, curricular areas, and around the globe.
  • How to create interactive media for use with students and have students use the tools to create content themselves.
  • How to foster student collaboration with wikis, social networking, and scores of specific tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Meebo Me, and more.

(For more information on these and other CT 2009 sessions, go here.)

But the conference goes beyond exploring new media, Web 2.0, and social networking innovations. It is designed to help faculty and administrators realize the power and capabilities of this digital age. Keynoter and Harvard (MA) Graduate School of Education Professor Chris Dede will explore which tools are appropriate to use when, and help faculty understand that having these tools can change their entire approach to teaching. The technology part is easy; the people part is more dif- ficult. That is why a conference like Campus Technology is so valuable-- you learn from fellow attendees as well as from the presenters. In addition, tools are in place so you can continue benefiting from the conference in a variety of ways, including our first-ever Campus Technology virtual conference this December.

McGuffey Hall, the 100-plus-year-old building where I taught while I was at Miami, recently underwent a $14 million renovation, including "…making sure the infrastructure of the classrooms had upto- date technology," according to an article in the Miami Student. Talk about progress: I always struggled to find an outlet to plug in the VCR in that building.

I'll see you in Boston.

--Geoff Fletcher, Editorial Director

CORRECTION: In "Capturing the Market," CT June 2009, we stated that Sonic Foundry holds a 40 percent-plus market share of the lecture capture market. That figure, which comes from research analysts Frost & Sullivan, refers to the overall market, including not only higher ed but also corporate, government, and other sectors.

About the Author

Geoffrey H. Fletcher is the deputy executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

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