More effective use of technology can improve students’ learning experience

“We are trying to teach children using the same methods as thirty years ago. Those methods do not work anymore.”

This was the core message by Konrad Von Leipzig, Director of the Institute of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU).

Konrad von Leipzig addressing people at the 6th Stellenbosch Forum Lecture for 2017. Photo: Andria Theron

“The current curriculum is outdated for the youth of today and thus it does not prepare them for the workforce,” he adds.

“We should adapt our way of presenting and facilitating classes to ensure that the information is transferred to students in an optimal way.”

The lecture was held over lunch on the 19th of October in the Stellenbosch University Library Auditorium.

The theme of the lecture was “Technology, big data and video games: To the detriment of our youth, or much needed catalyst for change?”

Von Leipzig told an anecdote of his time at university, when classes were quite small. “If you didn’t understand something, the lecturer could repeat it. Today there are so many students in a master’s class that the lecturer can’t give individual attention to each person,” says Von Leipzig.

This lecture comes only a week after Douglas Parry and Dr Daniel le Roux from the Department of Information Science released a study that confirms that phones are keeping students from concentrating during lectures.

“While ever-smarter digital devices have made many aspects of our lives easier and more efficient, a growing body of evidence suggests that, by continuously distracting us, they are harming our ability to concentrate,” says Le Roux and Parry from the Cognition and Technology Research group at SU.

“The thing with technology is, though, it brings lots of disruptions, but also lots of opportunities,” says Von Leipzig.

The aim of the study the lecture is not to say, “if you can’t beat them, join them”, but rather to utilise new technology in an “interactive and efficient way to ensure learner participation”.

According to Claire Stewart, a 3rd year BSc-student: “Lecturers don’t receive enough training in technology. Only some lecturers use videos to make a class more interactive, and in one class we could log in answers on an e-poll, which kept the students interested.”

Devon Basson, also a 3rd year BSc-student says that lecturers should especially use technology to communicate better with their students.

The special lecture formed part of the Stellenbosch Forum Lecture series for 2017. – Franco Havenga