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Rethinking University Teaching

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 7 months ago

Laurillard, Diana. Rethinking University Teaching: A Conversational Framework for the Effective Use of Learning Technologies. London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2002.


“This book starts from the premise that university teachers must take the main responsibility for what and how their students learn,” says the author in her Introduction (p. 1), and continues to say that “our responsibility as teachers is commensurate with the degree of control we exert over the learners.” And, though it is attractive to envision students as responsible to utilize the boundless resources of a university towards their own scholarly ends, Laurillard argues that (while this is possible at a postgraduate level) this is incredibly “labour-intensive” and suited for small, intimate groups (p. 2). The mass system of undergraduate instruction (read: huge lectures!) is, to Laurillard, untenable and she finds such impersonality “miraculously” producing knowledge, given that the professor usually knows little to nothing about any of her students in such contexts.


The first part of the book is called “What Students Need from Learning Technologies,” and includes a discussion of teaching as mediating in the learning process, as well as what students “bring to learning” and the processes by which we learn. A chapter is also given regarding the generation of a strategy for teaching, one that can unite “what students bring” with “what teachers should do” (p. 62); Laurillard is a proponent of using a constructivist psychology over a transmission or acquisition model. This chapter also gives a more in-depth discussion of ‘phenomenography,’ which was mentioned earlier in the book. Most interesting, though, seems to be a section in Part I which dispels the “myth” of Sokratic teaching and exposes its “lack of explicit focus” with a brief selection from the Symposium of Plato as well as the Meno.


Part II is entitled “Analysing the Media for Learning and Teaching” and, aptly enough, begins with a framework for analyzing various media in education. Then, sections are offered on 1) narrative media (video, television, text), 2) interactive media (largely Web-based items), 3) adaptive media (“computer-based media capable of changing their state in response to the user’s actions,” p. 126, including tutorials, and simulations), 4) communicative media (which “bring people together to discuss,” p. 145, including conferencing, et al.), and finally 5) productive media (which “enable a learner to create and produce a system of their own,” p. 164).


Part III involves tips on “designing” teacher materials and “Setting up the Learning Context.” Finally, Laurillard addresses “Designing an Effective Organisational Infrastructure” and discusses many aspects of the overall academic experience which need overhaul, including teaching and management. This book seems perfect for anyone who is interested in unlocking the full power of learning technologies in the classroom, but one might wonder whether she gives students enough credit in the learning process when she seeks to place almost all of the responsibility for successful learning on the teachers.


Added by Ed DuBois - 4/7/2008


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