Friday, December 7, 2012

One-Click Learning?


I had a pretty complex post started for today, then, something happened.

In my creative writing class, I wrote up some notes, on the white board, of a "character sketch" I want my kids to do for next meeting. I went through the particulars, explaining each piece of info I wanted them to come up with in their sketches and giving examples of a character I'd created.

The last thing I said was: "Make sure you have this in your notes -- there is no handout and I won't be posting it on my website."

As I was packing up and as the kids were shuffling out, a student casually walked up to the board and held up her cell phone to click a picture of my notes. "See you Mr Mat!" she said, smiling, stuffing the phone into her bag.

Teaching, today, really is a fascinating profession.

So, resourcefully, this young woman saved a great deal of time for herself. The question is: what will she do with it? (I have written about this particular question of technology here.) And, did she do herself a service or a disservice by clicking instead of transcribing -- does she benefit from note-taking or is she, like me, someone who is actually distracted by note-taking? Perhaps she was better able to concentrate on what I was saying as I went through the criteria; instead of writing stuff down, she was actually listening, knowing that she could simply click a picture on her way out to get the nuts and bolts of the assignment on record.

Sometimes I feel, with technology, like saying, "Stop this train, I want off." Sometimes, I want to ride the roof like a surfer, yawping up to the tattered clouds and swallowing as much wind as I can. This wasn't cutting-edge, high-tech. It was a picture. But it is tech manifesting itself into culture like ivy growing up a brick wall.


  1. I have to write in order to learn. Just reading something doesn't work for me. I somehow maintained a 3.85 gpa in college just by writing and re-writing my notes over and over again until it was stuck in my memory! (too bad I didn't know this trick in HS) Now I show my kids who have trouble studying this trick and it works for them, too. Please do a follow up on this will be interesting to see how she does! :)

    1. It is definitely a matter of individual learning styles, Carmen. I'm glad the approach works for your kids. There is also an interesting distinction going on, here" I think recopying notes might work for me; it's taking them as the instructor speaks that is the problem. If I got a copy of notes after class, then copied them, it might have helped. It's fascinating how different minds work.