Seat Time and Absenteeism February 11, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Students.
The Center for Digital Education released its bi-weekly newsletter today and I was struck by one article with the title University Professors Pulling Lecture Notes from Web to Reduce Absenteeism.
The article referred to my colleague, Americ Azevedo, who taught an Introduction to Computers class at the University of California, Berkeley. A recent article published on the Berkeley web site highlighted Professor Azevedo’s course and his enthusiasm for all the latest technology tools to aid teaching.
It turns out some professors are witnessing a spurt in absenteeism after adopting technologies that were envisioned as learning aids. We have discussed this here before, but it was odd that I heard a similar sentiment echoed this morning by the Associate Dean of the Eller College of Business, Pam Perry. I was there attending a seminar on 1:1 computing hosted by Gateway.
Pam spoke warmly of the 4,500 undergraduate students in the college and surprised me by talking about the amount of absenteeism the college was experiencing from students. She wrote it off to the first whiff of freedom the students were experiencing after high school. Of course, there are other reasons for the absenteeism and much of that has to do with so many professors posting lecture notes online.
This notetaking behaviour used to be the domain of students with ulterior motives who smelled a little profit for themselves. They would take notes and copy them for their hung-over roommates. Now the notes are officially sanctioned and freely available. Perhaps online notes might be the harbinger of more interactive classes. It would certainly be a pleasure to see activities that transcend note taking as the major avenue for learning. This concern for absenteeism might spin the other way and we might get what Pam Perry spoke about this morning, the taking of attendance and bonus points for showing up.
Simply placing a bottom in a chair is losing its value in higher education and forcing them into their seats is becoming harder to justify if the teaching is not changing.