Event Recap: Rethinking the Classroom with Mobile Technology

Apple's Dr. John Landis speaking at BU
Dr. Jon Landis speaking in Metcalf Trustee Center Ballroom (Photo credit: Susan Pett)

At the DL&I’s first Digital Fluency event, Dr. Jon Landis, National Development Executive at Apple, spoke about the changing knowledge economy and what it means for teaching and learning. Notable ideas he presented included:

  • The importance of translating the changing needs of your field into your teaching,
  • How changes in information gathering and self-publishing are shifting students’ classroom expectations, and
  • The increased importance of evaluation of information and application of knowledge

After a short coffee break we broke into small groups to discuss various aspects of teaching including managing attention in the classroom, engaging outside the classroom, and identifying opportunities for change. More than 40 faculty and staff joined us for this Digital Fluency Series event.

Prior to Apple, Dr. Landis served as a college of education professor, chemistry teacher, principal, curriculum director and information technology director in Pennsylvania. He holds a Ph.D in Sociology, an MA in Education Leadership, and a BS in Chemistry. His variety of roles in teaching, administration, and technology helped to shape his perspective on the importance updating teaching methods to match the changing knowledge economy.

What is the knowledge economy?
The knowledge economy is the set of constraints on the availability of information. Who can know what and how quickly? Who can communicate what and to what audience? It is largely governed by technological progress. Innovations in transportation and communication have meant massive shifts in the answers to these questions. In all cases, innovation has meant more people having more access to more information and more audience. We now have all the world’s information available in our pockets.

How does the knowledge economy influence teaching and learning?

Consider the role of the lecture in the current knowledge economy. If students know they can get similar information elsewhere, how will that impact their attention in the classroom? What teaching methods can keep them engaged?

It’s critical to think about the kinds of questions students will need to be prepared to answer when they graduate. What kinds of application and analysis can be expected from them considering the wealth of available information?

Landis reminded us of the ability of individuals (even children) to reach a global audience on any topic through YouTube or other self-publishing services. How do you communicate the value of one person’s assessment when a student has access to a larger audience?

Future Course Development Opportunities

What are the pain points of your current courses? Identify the assignment that is particularly challenging to grade or that regularly frustrates students. Landis suggested allowing students some room to innovate by keeping the learning goal but removing the prescriptive requirements of the assignment. If a student’s method is an especially good fit you might incorporate those elements into the next run of the course.

Get creative. Landis shared the story of a professor who informed her students that she would lie during each lecture and that it was up to the students to identify the misinformation and correct it. Imagine students thinking critically about your lecture two or three days later, trying to navigate the intricacies of the subject matter.

Breakout Group Snapshot
Attendees selected a breakout group conversation from four areas of interest:

  • Designing activities to focus student energy on critical concepts, principles, and skills
  • Fostering a friendly, social environment to promote learning and sharing
  • Clarifying learning objectives, timelines, procedural rules, and assessment protocols
  • Becoming more comfortable using devices, apps, and systems for teaching

With those questions as a starting point, attendees explored a variety of topics including:

  • Video, clickers, online quizzes, MyMedia, Zoom
  • Classroom engagement, peer learning, accessibility, information vetting
  • Resources and funding, getting started, barriers to change

Future events

To learn more about future events, check in with DL&I’s news page or the DL&I calendar where event announcements and recaps will be posted regularly. We also post about events on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.