There was an article recently in Inside Higher Ed that ruffled my feathers. Having been a faculty member myself I realize some of the difficulties in teaching and therefore give my academic brethren wide latitude especially when it comes to using, or not using, technology. But the story of a faculty member banning email between her and her students, except to schedule a physical meeting, seemed rather shortsighted to me. Here is the post I made on Inside Higher Ed:
I have visited Salem College, nice place, as it was in the same town (Winston-Salem, NC) when I worked at Wake Forest University.
I disagree with the professor’s position and agree with DF’s comment regarding a lost “Teachable Moment Opportunity.”
I think the professor’s focus is too narrow. Too focused on only her domain area.
According to Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, the result of a college is experience is not only producing students with domain expertise (e.g., accounting) but also critical thinking, written and oral communication, qualitative and quantitative skills and, I would add, some degree of socialization.
I agree with the professor that students can, and do, abuse email. But if they do not learn how to appropriately use it in college they may abuse it when they graduate and are employed.
Written communication in 2014 is not just writing papers. Rather, it is knowing how to communicate using the tools available today (e.g., Outlook, Skype, IM, Yammer).
According to the article, “Years ago, she tried to take a stand against smartphones, tablets and laptops in the classroom.” Well, if she is training her students for the work environment of 35 years about (pre-1980, pre-PC) that would be fine. But today technology is an integral part of almost all work environments and professions.
Many surveys (samples below) of employers show their dissatisfaction with what colleges are producing and what skills are needed to be successful in today’s workplace. I realize that the mission of colleges and universities is much broader than vocational education. But, the traditional outcomes of a university education (e.g., communication, critical thinking, etc.) must be viewed through the lens of the affordances and constraints offered by technology which graduates will be using in their future workplaces.
- 60% of employers: “Applicants lack communication and interpersonal skills” Workforce
Solutions Group – Nov ’13
- 44% of employers “Communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration biggest skill gap”
Adecco – Oct ’13
- Top New Hires priorities: “Team player, problem solver, plan, organize, prioritize”
Nat’l Association. Colleges & Employers – Sep ’13