"Teaching Naked" at SMU

Sorry, that's hardly as sexy as it sounds. But that is how José Bowen, dean of the university's Meadows School of the Arts, describes his edict to pull the plug on the technology clogging up the classrooms. Bowen, speaking to The Chronicle of Higher Education, doesn't buy University of Texas at Dallas profs Monica Rankin and David Parry's philosophy that the best way to engage students is by letting 'em tweet their way to the top; quite the opposite, matter of fact.

Bowen's, ahem, old school: He think students and teachers should ... what's the word? ... discuss subjects during class time, and leave the technowhoziwhatsis to before and after lectures -- hence, the Meadows profs' podcasts and video lectures intended to augment discussions, not replace them. (Looks like you can subscribe to film professor Kevin Heffernan's podcasts via his university Web site.) Alas, there is but one downside:

The biggest resistance to Mr. Bowen's ideas has come from students, some of whom have groused about taking a more active role during those 50-minute class periods. The lecture model is pretty comfortable for both students and professors, after all, and so fundamental change may be even harder than it initially seems, whether or not laptops, iPods, or other cool gadgets are thrown into the mix. ...

"Strangely enough, the people who are most resistant to this model are the students, who are used to being spoon-fed material that is going to be quote unquote on the test," says Mr. Heffernan. "Students have been socialized to view the educational process as essentially passive. The only way we're going to stop that is by radically refiguring the classroom in precisely the way José wants to do it."

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