OpenAI’s ChatGPT, released on November 30, 2022, quickly garnered 100 million users, an event that sent shockwaves throughout the education sector. Many educators, despite teaching about disruptive technologies in history, felt unprepared and defensive against this AI breakthrough. Historically, the higher education sector has been slow to embrace technology. Classrooms today often still resemble their counterparts from a century ago, with lectures remaining the central focus.
Ironically, while classrooms cling to old ways, administrative and student life departments have turned to technology for tasks like recruiting. As innovations like ChatGPT become more integrated into society, the pressing question becomes how higher education should evolve in this tech-dominant era.
There are varied opinions on the way forward. Some suggest reinforcing classical teachings, while others push for teaching modern skills like critical thinking and collaboration. What’s clear is that an alliance between humans and technology, termed “cobotics,” is inevitable. Universities should shift from merely “thinking with print” to “thinking with technology,” where digital tools are considered allies in the learning process.
Digital technologies offer vast advantages: from abundant content, rapid recall, democratization of information, to transcending geographical constraints. By integrating technology, classrooms can encourage real-world problem-solving, where students use both internal knowledge and external digital resources. Assignments can mirror real-world scenarios where technology is ubiquitous. With the internet’s multi-mediality, educators have a plethora of formats to cater to diverse learning styles, from visual to auditory.
However, the drawbacks of technology, like biases, surveillance, misinformation, and distractions, are also evident. As society grapples with these issues, the immediate remedy is in classrooms, teaching students to navigate and counteract these pitfalls. Mindfulness, critical thinking, and information literacy can act as safeguards.
Colleges must recognize technology as a foundation for the future of education. Despite the lack of consensus on the path ahead, the notion of “thinking with technology” should be at the forefront. To stay relevant, institutions need to revamp their pedagogical practices, placing technology at the heart of learning to prepare students for a tech-centric future.
Source: Bratic, V. (2023, July 10). Teaching and Thinking with Technology. Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning.