December 12th, 2014
After a full day of teaching at Boston College, Karen Arnold had to
find time to read her students’ contributions to an online discussion
board. Each was required to write at least one post, and, as usual, they
seemed to have waited to do it until the night before the deadline.
“They would just blather something,” said Arnold, who teaches higher
education and educational administration. “They didn’t have a
conversation. It was more like a hoop-jumping exercise.”
That was around 2008, and Arnold has avoided assigning online discussions ever since.
Like other faculty nationwide with memories of failed experiments such
as these, she’s pushing back against the widespread notion that
technology can necessarily improve teaching and cut costs.
“We are fooling ourselves that we’re getting more efficient,” she said.