1) What trends are you currently seeing in collaboration and student engagement?
CJ: If you look at trends that aren’t necessarily tied to the classroom itself – how do students approach the problem of learning and collaboration? It’s different than, for example, when I was an undergraduate. I didn’t have a device in the classroom; I had a pen, paper and analog tools. But if you look at how millennials interact with their technology landscape, they don’t view the devices as independent entities that store data, for example. It’s really part of their cognition.
So if I’m trying to do problem solving, for example, I’m drawing on all the tools at my disposal, including my smartphone, my tablet, all the data I have in the Cloud, my ability to instant message people who have access to the Cloud simultaneously, etc. It’s a different approach to problem-solving, and it’s a trend that’s happening globally. That is a tremendous trend, and one that can’t be ignored. I think probably in higher education in particular, faculty, TAs, students and staff have to all realize this is happening, and embrace it.
The trend in the classroom is, people are embracing that now. You want to come up with approaches in education that embrace that and allow students to use those tools in new, good ways.
2) What technologies do you see that are involved in increasing student engagement?
CJ: I think it’s maybe not a technology, but a way of learning. Active learning and the flipped classroom approach are all about student engagement because they’re student led. Rather than me lecturing from the front of the room and hoping people are absorbing that information, it’s me guiding them as they explore the information among themselves. It’s become popular not because it’s a buzz word; it’s taking off because that’s the way millennials like to interact. They don’t think of it as, “who’s our leader that’s going to guide us to a solution.” It’s more about getting all the tools at my disposal and all the data that I have access to, and all the instantaneous communication I have with my colleagues, and how do we come up with an interesting solution.
I think technologies that support active learning are really interesting. I’ve seen some things that are as mundane as 4K displays bolted to movable carts so you can pick a team quickly, move into a corner and collaborate on that display. That’s interesting to me. Wireless allows you to be more flexible in the classroom and to have ad-hoc groups come together and disappear.