Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Do We Add?

Over the last few years, my wife and I have become big fans of the video classes produced by The Teaching Company. Two or three times per week, we will watch a 30 or 45-minute video lecture on art or literature or history or religion prepared by a college teacher. I am amazed by how much I now know about topics that once were totally foreign to me.

In watching these videos, I am occasionally reminded of a question that comes up in colleges now and then: Do we need live instructors? Why don’t we find the very best college teachers and film their classes? Then, put those videos up on the Internet and everyone (or, at least, our students) can learn the material without the need of a classroom or a teacher.

Well, the easy answer to that query is that a college education has to be more than the conveyance of information to a passive student taking notes. So, doesn’t that automatically raise the next question that we need to address as teachers: What are we adding in our classes that goes beyond the conveyance of information to a passive student? If the answer is nothing, then maybe we should all be replaced by videos.

As you get ready for the fall semester, ponder how you are going to add value to your students.
--“I’m going to tell them some interesting stories.” -- A video can tell them hundreds of interesting stories.
--“I’m going to tell them about the history of my discipline.” -- A video can tell them about the history of your discipline.
--“I’m going to walk them step-by-step through the essential core of the disciple.” - A video can walk students through the essential core of the discipline.

Those are all important to a class but they could just as easily be done by a person on video. What are you going to do this coming semester in your classes that a video could not do?

We live in a time when too many people believed that they could not be replaced until they were replaced. My assumption is that if you add real value to a process, you become essential. Otherwise, someone will eventually catch on that you can be replaced.

There are many, many ways that teachers add value to the students in their classes. How will you do that in the coming fall? What will you do that couldn’t be replaced by a video?


I hope you will check out all of my other posts about learning and the education processs at

No comments:

Post a Comment