Entertain me

Every now and again, I read something that just stops me in my tracks and makes me wonder how we got there.

I remember years ago when, as a district, we were musing about allowing students to bring their own personal devices into the classroom.

The issues, as best I can remember them were:

  • how do we install the right software on their computer?
  • will we allow them on the network?
  • if we allow them onto the network, how will they get their files that are saved on the fileserver?
  • if we allow them onto the network and the internet, what happens when they go to an inappropriate website?
  • what if they used the camera on their laptop or other device to take pictures of the teacher and post them online?

By today’s standards, they seem so old and antiquated. School districts have learned how to address them and the world didn’t end.

Then, there was the biggy…we need to block YouTube. Students will spend all their time on there instead of paying attention in class. That too reached a solution.

Now, all of this is in the K-12 environment where you can have a closer contact to what’s actually happening in class.

Now think back to university days and those big classes with the professor doing her/his thing at the front of the classroom. Missing a class really wasn’t the end of the world, it was just a matter of reading the textbook or photocopying a friend’s notes. These days with many professors using things like Powerpoint for presentations, sharing is done from their office. It makes at least the content of a lecture easy to retrieve.

Now this – Professors need to be entertaining to prevent students from watching YouTube in class

Words can’t describe my first reaction to this.

We’re not at K-12 anymore where you have to be in class. These students are paying for their education. Now they want to be entertained?

I think back and there were maybe 2 or 3 professors that I would call entertaining in their presentation and their style. For us, we had to be entertained by learning the content. Granted, at the time, we didn’t have YouTube as an alternative. We either went to class and participated or we took the risk of having to learn alternatively or miss out on the content.

For the most part, the professors were serious and dedicated to their content. It was the teaching assistants that took on a less formal role and you certainly didn’t want to miss the labs.

I guess times have changed. We live in a world where we’re easily entertained since we’re connected all the time. We live in a world of TED talks where a person can spend months to get their timing and message correct.

I’m just at a loss to think of a way that First Year Algebra or Accounting or Computer Science could be entertaining as you sit in those monster lecture halls for a complete term.

Help me with this.


4 thoughts on “Entertain me

  1. Doug, could the problem be with a lecture itself? Maybe it’s the format that has to change, and is that possible, given a university structure? I’m not sure …



  2. Doug, whether at university or highschool, I still remember those teachers/professionals who were able to make their lessons “fun”. The problem here would be what people consider fun or entertaining. In a third year university math class, making fun quips during a mathematical proof was entertaining to me. The little quirks about how professors delivered their lessons either make or broke the lesson.
    The thought of having to be “entertaining” to deliver a lecture is all relative. Everybody knows the way Einstein looked, with his expertise, would that be enough? Although I don’t necessarily see Einstein delivering first year physics lessons either.

    G Brenders


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