The investment gap

I’ve just had a short chat with a lecturer who was taking a quick break from the class he’s in the middle of teaching.  He mentioned that he was using a SmartBoard, and his frustration at seeing what he could do with the technology if only he’d had proper training in how to do so – as he said, being one of over 100 people at a 20 minute demonstration 18 months ago just doesn’t count as training, no matter how much the powers that be might want it to.

He also reported a similar situation at another institution at which he teaches, which has invested a great deal of money in technology enhanced classrooms and none in training people how to use them.  As a result, the potential of these classrooms is completely unused, and lecturers are frustrated at their lack of knowledge of how to tap into it.

‘They don’t need to pay us to train!’ he said, suggesting that both institutions simply open the classrooms for an hour or two some evenings with a technologist there to help people out, and let small groups get actual hands-on practice with the technology.  It’s just not reasonable to expect a lecturer to have his or her first experience of using new technology be in front of a class of 50 students.

This lecturer’s enthusiasm for exploring new ways of teaching, and his vision of the things he’d like to be able to do if only he knew how, were inspiring and infectious, and it’s so frustrating to see such a clear example of why new technologies aren’t being made the most of.  The reluctance to invest in adequately training staff to use the new technology an institution has just spent heavily on seems like a terrible false economy.