Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Greg Philo on communicating effectively

Greg Philo on communicating effectively | comment | "Lectures should be a way of engaging students and showing them why a subject is exciting. We can enthuse and motivate with the drama of what we have to say (why else call it a lecture theatre?). The ability to communicate face to face and hold the attention of others is a vital human skill. Beware of a technology in which the speed of our fingers is more important than the quality of our voices."
The argument running through the above article is that we need more talk, less type - and although I question some of what he's saying (hasn't he heard of Skype - using a computer isn't all or nothing, type to the complete exclusion of talk), he does raise some extremely valid points. One of which is that the engagement factor is critical. Though I would argue that the medium in which the 'engagement factor' factor can occur can vary, making things interesting, attention-grabbing and involving is vital. I've been thinking about OpenLearn lately and the missing 'something' which seems to plague it. Community and context are so important to consider. Take material which was meant to be delivered in one way, do some technically interesting stripping of irrelevant / obsolete stuff, pop it into a VLE... and BINGO! Ermmm... doesn't quite work.

The fear of technology's use for technology's sake runs throughout Greg Philo's article. Powerpoint presentations which do little more than encourage an audience to switch off and plan their evening meal. Websites which demonstrate 'online learning', but are viewed by some as no more than a document dump. E-mail being used when to hear a voice would be the better option. We live in an integrated world. One technology flows into another. One means of communication flows into another. People's networks flow into others. Why not seize that flexibility and variation? Yes, we *could* learn everything online. Or pick up something from a Powerpoint-infested lecture. Maybe one face-to-face experience will inspire us. Maybe is won't. Sometimes low tech is the better option. Sometimes not. Personalised vs. the impersonal - what works for one may miss a key ingredient for another. Here's to a mix an' match world. Trying to select the right tool for the right job... and realising that no matter what our intentions, the outcome can vary because people themselves are so complex.

Brain dump complete. :o)

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