Saturday, August 1, 2009

why i teach naked

I am a firmly in the camp of those who teach naked. Teaching naked causes students to pay more attention in class and become more active learners. There is more than enough research to show teaching naked increases student learning. I've found to teach economics effectively I must teach naked.

Isn't student learning what is important?

Oh, did I mention that to teach naked is to not use technology in the classroom? That is, to teach without computers.

The most often used technology in the classroom is PowerPoint (ppt). PPT presentations make it easy to follow lectures and the slides can be posted online for students to reference later. The only problem is that ppt has been shown to lower learning outcomes. Students are not actively involved. It is better for student learning to have them just copy notes from a chalkboard than to sit passively listening to a lecture and watching the pretty pictures on the ppt slides. The worst active learning beats the best passive learning.

Here is a sad commentary on higher education. Recently I was talking with a yet-to-be-tenured colleague from another department who mentioned she felt pressured to use technology in the classroom. So far she has resisted the pressure because she cares about student learning. However, she also has to receive tenure to keep teaching.

A recent post on Freakonomics cites articles and findings about ppt. PPT is not only destroying student learning but according to the Armed Forces Journal, PowerPoint is hurting our national defense by diminishing decision-making skills at the Pentagon.

Power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts absolutely. Six years ago that was the quite appropriate sub-title of the first known ppt-hating article. The title of that article was:

PowerPoint is Evil.

Be blessed.

P.S. I do require my students to use Aplia outside of class to do both practice and graded problem sets and assignments. However, this requires active learning.

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