This is my last journal entry on Jose Antonio Bowen’s book. It was so interesting to see my perspective on “Teaching Naked” completely changed from beginning to end. I’m eager to reread it again and start pulling out resources that I want to explore in more detail. And I also finally figured out what Bowen meant by teaching naked: “non-technological interaction with students inside the classroom” (Bowen, 2012, preface x).
Bowen (2012) argues that in order for institutions to survive the impact of the internet on educational delivery and global competition, faculty and administration must work together to create a unique learning experience that can only be provided in face-to-face format. “If students are going to come to campus, there must be something more on campus than is available online, and that can only be faculty interacting with students in powerful and meaningful ways” (Bowen, 2012, p. 286). He points out that the perceived experience of college as a rite of passage to adulthood with the extras of football teams, gyms, dorms, and campus life will be less and less valued. The product of education, being able to demonstrate that more learning is taking place on campus, will become the new standard by which an institution is judged and ranked among its competitors. Hybrid courses that combine online and in-person components will be the preferred mode of learning and will offer the most possibility for growth in enrollment (Anderson, Boyles, & Rainie, 2012; Bowen, 2012; Rowland, 2013; University of Washington Bothwell Learning Technologies, 2013). Each institution must assess its local and global strengths and adapt its course offerings, course designs, and physical and administrative structures in order to exist in and alongside the digital world.
I was quite surprised by the evolution of Bowen’s writing. It originally struck me as relentless (and perhaps biased) advocating for extensive technology and online learning in education. Then it became an impassioned plea for educational institutions to innovate and transform themselves to improve the learning process and outcomes for students. My perspective of the book completely changed from a negative and resistant outlook in Part 1 to one of interest and curiosity in Parts 2 and 3. In the last three chapters, Bowen gave intriguing examples of institutional changes that encourage innovation and enhance the value of in-class learning along with the idea of “glocalization”. It gave me hope for both instructors and educational institutions in the future. His discussion also sparked my imagination about what unique path Vancouver Community College would take as it strives to find new and better ways to connect with students.
Bowen summarized how changes in the delivery system of education (via the internet) impact the product (education) itself and how it is used and consumed. He stated that the standardization of education will increase and lead to a few, excellent products being widely distributed. Why does every educational institution need to offer its very own introductory chemistry course? The content we deliver is exactly the same: atomic structure, periodic table, types of bonding, organic compounds, etc., so why not simply use the best materials for delivery of content outside of class and make better use of face-to-face time for active learning and development of essential skills? The time saved from not having to make series of PowerPoints or deliver them could instead be devoted to curating the best selection of resources for content delivery and engagement. Face-to-face time could be used for more experiments and developing the scientific literacy and writing skills that we usually and unreasonably either expect students to already have or to somehow absorb without spending time directly teaching them. Instructors who know their school, their students and the local area can also provide an invaluable, personal context for the content that will motivate and connect students to the topic. For example, current chemistry research at UBC recently improved existing flu drugs; using an event like this places chemistry in a close to home moment and allows for interdisciplinary discussion of biology and physiological concepts as well (University of British Columbia, 2013). While a standardized general chemistry course would likely not include a critical analysis of the scientific method, discussions about feminism and science, or the most up-to-date research connected to course concepts, these are exactly the types of discussions and critical thinking that instructors should be and could be spending time on in class.
Bowen also mentioned that another anticipated change in education is institutions finding ways to share resources or overlap program offerings in order to reduce costs and offer a larger selection of courses and majors. Similar to the point above about using existing online resources to reduce redundancies in content delivery, institutions in competing geographic areas would be wise to do likewise with their course offerings. In 2010, five post-secondary institutions on Vancouver Island signed a memorandum of understanding “intended to foster collaboration related to the post-secondary education and training needs of Vancouver Island and the BC Coastal Region as a whole” (University of Victoria, 2010). BCIT, VCC, and SFU recently signed a collaboration agreement that will allow students more mobility between schools, reduce redundancies, and provide possibilities of joint program delivery (Vancouver Community College, 2013). Each of these institutions has local strengths or niches but also competes in some areas for the same students. For example, VCC has targeted trades like the hospitality industry, culinary arts, and hair/esthetics while BCIT’s focus has been on applied technology (environmental engineering, aerospace engineering etc.). However, both institutions offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and have been increasing the array of health care training certificates and diplomas available in response to the predicted rising employment demand. BCIT and VCC may be able to work together to more strategically offer programs for the health care industry or allow students to ladder their courses between the two institutions. There are also students who take upgrading or first year university courses at BCIT or VCC and then want to transfer to a four-year university institution like SFU; students require ease of credit transfer and recognition for work completed in order to move between institutions (Bowen, 2012). They don’t need to struggle to find out whether a course taken at VCC would count for credit at SFU or find different colleges that can provide them with the credentials they need to enter the program they eventually want to join. Building their own degree should be as smooth and seamless as possible. In other recent news, BCIT signed an agreement with the London School of Business & Finance to offer a post-graduate degree in business that guarantees acceptance for an MBA program at a number of global institutions upon successful completion (London School of Business & Finance, 2013). These kinds of agreements and collaborative education offerings will continue to become more prevalent.
Reflecting on the administrative and/or institutional changes that will come as post-secondary education moves into the future makes me aware of how much openness to change I will need to have as an instructor. I must be willing to adapt my own teaching and to support or advocate for innovations in the institution that will provide more valuable learning experiences. I want to be at the forefront of embracing ways technology can deepen student engagement outside of the classroom, help build community among a very diverse group of students who lead busy lives and rarely attend all classes, and deliver content in more effective ways. Continuing to read the growing body of research on technology and andragogy will be essential as well as participating in forums and networks on social media in education to help me improve my hybrid course design and integration of technology. I will need to review MIT’s online introductory chemistry course, Carnegie Mellon’s online introductory chemistry course, and Khan Academy videos to determine which of their materials could be used for content delivery in a chemistry 11 or chemistry 12 curriculum. This will be the beginning of curating an array of online resources for content delivery and student engagement for my course. Within the department, I would also work to develop collaborations with other instructors teaching the same course or sequential courses to compile a shared list of curated resources. I strongly believe that there needs to be more integration of the learning experience from level to level. Rather than students experiencing each instructor as an entirely different set of requirements and expectations, students should experience continuity. Concepts should be developed more deeply and the level of cognitive domain learning be incrementally raised as students progress. Hopefully at a department level, I would also find support from the head or dean to take risks in experimenting with course delivery.
Anderson, J.; Boyles, J.L.; & Rainie, L. (2012). The future of higher education. Pew Internet Research. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Future-of-Higher-Education/Overview.aspx
Bowen, J.A. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ellis, E. (2013, February 22). UBC develops new weapon against influenza: Work published in the journal Science could lead to alternative anti-flu medication. Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from http://www.vancouversun.com/health/develops+weapon+against+influenza/8001359/story.html
London School of Business & Finance. (2013). BCIT and London School of Business & Finance to offer joint degree [Press release]. BC Link News. Retrieved from http://linkbc.ca/news/?nid=316
Rowland, R. (2013, February 20). Selingo talks future of higher education. The Dartmouth. Retrieved from http://thedartmouth.com/2013/02/20/news/chronicle
University of Victoria. (2010). Vancouver Island institutions sign collaborative agreement [Press release]. Retrieved from http://communications.uvic.ca/releases/release.php?display=release&id=1139
University of Washington Bothell Learning Technologies. (2013). Examining the future of public higher education: The pros and cons of online, hybrid, and face-to-face class formats. Retrieved from http://depts.washington.edu/etuwb/ltblog/?p=2764
Vancouver Community College. (2013). VCC, BCIT, and SFU sign unique collaboration agreement [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.vcc.ca/about-vcc/news.cfm?NEWS_ID=7875