Refresh: Using Technology to Update Course Content

Posted on August 20th, 2012 by

One of the things we hope to instill in students is the inclination to be lifelong learners, comfortable with the fact that knowledge is never finished, prepared to confront new information and make sense of it. Yet students often resist the ambiguity of unfinished knowledge and are more comfortable knowing what to read rather than following developments as they unfold. I’m wondering about the best means of developing intellectual curiosity in a digital world where the flow of new information is constant and the distraction factor is high.

What do you do to help students get a feel for what’s happening in your discipline right now? How do you encourage students to link what’s happening in the class to what’s going on in the world (and pay enough attention to what’s happening outside the “bubble” to see the connections)? Have you found RSS feeds, Twitter hashtags, blogs, or Facebook helpful in your courses, or just distracting? In your major, do you intentionally develop in students a toolkit for keeping up and staying abreast of relevant developments?  How do you balance the amount of stuff you know you have to cover with incorporating events as they unfold? Do you ever have a chance to talk about how the Internet works and how these social technologies are affecting your discipline?

Obviously, I have more questions than answers, but in my limited experience, it’s not easy to convince students that they should take the time to explore and be curious about what’s happening in the world (of their major or the world at large) – yet it seems to me that habit of curiosity is going to be very important when their formal education is completed (but never really finished).




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