‘Teach Naked’

A dean at Southern Methodist University is removing computers from lecture halls and challenging faculty to teach naked — meaning, without technology.

drawing in the public domain

Dean José A. Bowen of the Meadows School of the Arts (which includes Communications) believes PowerPoint, in particular, creates boring learning environments. Bowen challenges teachers to put material online or use podcasts so that classroom time is for student interaction.

In academic circles, his approach has generated a news story and video in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

At Elon, our classrooms are filled with technology, and we try to use it wisely. That may mean accessing a Web site, or showing a video excerpt, or giving an example of online interactivity in our small classes.

Mostly, the classroom should involve eye contact — teacher-to-student, student-to-student — so that we’re going far beyond textbook material and engaging students in active learning.

My fellow dean makes a good point in a provocative way. The purpose of technology should be to enhance student learning, not bore it to death.

Still, since technology can help the learning process if used wisely, we plan to stay clothed in Elon’s School of Communications.

Explore posts in the same categories: Teaching, Technology

2 Comments on “‘Teach Naked’”

  1. Paul Wagner Says:

    First of all,thank you. You’ve positioned Elon’s School of Communications just right of center on the spectrum from ‘chalk ‘n talk’ lectures on the left to on-line learning on the far right. As an i-Media grad student, my focus this year will be devoted to discovering how our new technologies can improve interaction, collaboration and learning in a lecture environment (yes, a wired lecture by a real live person). This mission sounds way too ‘techie’ and contrary to the goals referred to in the article. But is it really? I realize your fellow dean is getting ‘air’ time with his ‘naked’ metaphor but, please take note how often he and his colleagues mention and use laptops, videos, podcasts,projections and even,the dreaded .ppt word! Why am I getting a lot of mixed signals here? Sounds more like a justification for a budget cut. There is already research on the limitations of PowerPoint® and why bulleted output is an ineffective approach for learning or even as a presentation medium in the business community. So, what’s new? Yes, bricks and mortar campuses have to compete with on-line learning. But, lets get dressed up and wired properly and this transition to something better than boring, old Mr. PowerPoint might be just as seamless as word processing replacing naked typewriters.

    • Paul Parsons Says:

      Excellent points, Paul, and the Chronicle article states that one reason for the dean’s removal of computers from classrooms is financial. I like your visual metaphor of “Let’s get dressed up and wired properly.”

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