teaching, technology, and the future

barry waid (waidbar@MAIL.AUBURN.EDU)
Sun, 25 Sep 1994 20:30:03 CDT

for me, the most striking part of mary pat mann's post was the suggestion "that
authentic learning takes place in communities of practice, not in classrooms,
real or virtual." and these communities can be real or virtual. technology is
going to allow virtual communities to play an ever increasing role through
electronic mailing lists, multi-user environments, teleconferences. etc.

as a research and reference tool the advantages of computer/network technology
are without question. this strength should help make the technology available
for those interested in teaching with it. i do not foresee it as being a threat
to jobs and/or graduate positions but possibly increase them. here at auburn we
averaged about one assistantship per year until three years ago. that was when
we created a social sciences computer lab and needed graduate students to staff
it and teach small groups of students. this has accomplished what mann proposed.
the fields anthropology, geography, sociology, all have been availed greater
exposure to undergradutes, each has hired (or been funded to hire) an additional
position, and we now average 10 assistantships per year. all as a direct result
of the social sciences computer lab.

we may have big electronic classrooms (roadmap is an internet class in existence
right now) but we will probably also have electronic seminars. someone will be
needed to teach these. and the extinction of face-to-face communication/teaching
is nowhere in sight. and neither is the abolition of assistantships.

i agree that augmentation of teaching is an important point also. if we can
increase both the quality and quantity of learning then everyone benefits. mike
lieber gives us an excellent example of how we can use the technology to work
towards this. mann's idea that those concerned should get involved should be
followed to ensure that the learning process is human driven and not technology

barry waid
department of sociology
auburn university