We’re lucky to have Eric Tremblay, founder of the blog E-Learning Acupuncture, with us today to share his insights on education. Eric is an adjunct professor at St. Lawrence College and blogs about educational technology and e-learning. His blog, E-Learning Acupuncture, was voted a top 50 education innovator by eCollegeFinder.
1. What inspired you to start E-Learning Acupuncture?
I think blogging can be a very useful practice for an educational practitioner because it gives an opportunity to chronicle and reflect upon your work. It’s the reflection aspect that really helps us learn in my view. I think in the field of education we need to do more of this. During the blogging, or documentation process, it gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our chosen approach, to look back at previous blog entries, and to (re)consider if the chosen approaches are demonstrably effective or they need to be modified in some way. The aspect of reflection upon previous practices is the key here. So I use this blog, E-Learning Acupuncture, to chronicle my activities as an Instructional Designer and Professor, and I often look back upon it for ideas, and also to get a sense of where I have been. I’ve been building this blog since 2002 and its value to my practice of reflection has increased as time passes.
2. How is the current generation of students different from previous generations?
Much has been written on this topic in the literature. Briefly, I’ve been in the business long enough to know that students rarely get excited anymore with standard face-to-face lectures where all they do is watch the instructor at the front of the class. Students need to learn by doing. Teachers have a challenge here though because many teachers do not fully appreciate how the students of today *do* things. For example, how they are attached to their cell phone, how they text message with their friends/family fifty times a day, how they use online social networks and how they do ‘research’ and ‘multitask’ on the Internet for everything – including school work. It’s different than it used to be and teachers need to learn about this difference or risk falling into the trap of trying to teach the way they were taught when they were students.
3. How can technology be used to impact education?
One of the major focus points of my blog is to address the questions of how technology can augment education. It is a large subject and it is a constantly moving target. There are so many factors that influence how technology impacts education: inclass vs. out of class, highschool vs. university, technology as a communication tool, technology as a research tool, technology as a data aggregation tool, and technology as a production tool. Each of these factors can be exploited to impact education.
4. What is the biggest obstacle in integrating technology in education?
The biggest obstacle in integrating technology in education is fear of change on behalf of educators. This fear stems from two things: 1) educators have a comfort zone – teaching the way they were taught when they were students. To deviate from this even slightly is anxiety provoking for many. 2) Those teachers that have overcome the need to stay within their comfort zone are faced with barriers that impede them with technology integration such as lack of time and lack of information. Teachers are far too busy these days with administration to devote enough time to their craft. Without investing time in the art of teaching and simulataneously researching best practices in technology, teachers simply do not have the skills and knowledge to effectively use technology in education. The lack of skills and knowledge, combined with the fast rate of change in the field of educational technology, directly contribute to fear of change.
5. Do you think it is possible to one day have an all-online classroom?
Yes. We have it today. Many institutions, including the one I teach at, routinely create online classrooms. The students, the instructors, the walls, the desks, the smells and the sounds are far different from the traditional face-to-face classrooms that we are familiar with; however, despite being different – the well designed online classroom is an effective way for a group of students to learn.