Episode 2: Education and Technology

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela

Podcast Version

Dialling it up!

So you’re sitting in lecture, 9 AM, comfy chairs, stayed up late submitting a project the previous night, the perfect recipe to sleep in lecture. By the time lecture is over, pray it’s only an hour, and you’re in no mood to continue. This happens a couple of times and you decide to skip a lecture. One lecture becomes two, two becomes three, come midterm time, you have no idea what to study as you have no notes. Panic? Yes sir. Stress? Definitely. But does that always have to be the case. Let us visualize a different scenario!

It’s 1:00 PM, and you've overslept your morning lectures. You get up, not worrying at all because you can catch up on what you've missed. How? Well, there is an invention people are talking about that allows you to do such a thing. No it’s not a time turner, but a recorded lecture!

 I used to be totally against this idea. Technology?? Education??? They just can’t go together! Being in the lecture room, and more specifically, a blackboard and chalk, are THE only way to learn. But is that the case? Does everyone learn the same way? At the same rate? What changed my perception about education was by reading a book written by the founder of the Khan Academy, Sal Khan, called The One World Schoolhouse: Education Re-imagined. Good read if you’re interested!

Combining what I've read to what I experience, I think recorded lectures are a must for any course. Why? In the case of Johnny Tired, instead of dragging himself to lecture, he can rest, and when he wants, he can see the lecture.  Not only that, he can pause when he wants, go back, and take a break! There is no such thing as, ‘Yo Bob, what did the Professor say?

But, let’s develop this idea a bit more. Instead of having recorded lectures for those ‘lazy’ (heavy quotation marks) students, should recorded lectures be the norm? Should professors record the content they want to teach beforehand, upload it, let the students watch it, and then dedicate lecture time for discussion and questions? I don’t know about you, but no matter how brilliant a lecturer is, it become harder to concentrate after 30 minutes of class! Maybe I just have a short attention span!

 If universities cared about the undergraduate teaching experience, they should at least experiment with this idea. Online lectures, in-class discussion! Maybe try it for one class and see the student response? I mean, with technology being cheap these days, how much is a video recorder going to cost? For decades, technology has improved multiple areas of our lives, it does seem pretty ironic that it hasn't improved the place it was developed!

Questions for Professor Stickel:

Episode 2: Professor Stickel
  • How does it feel like to go from being a student to being a professor?
  • Did you imagine yourself being a teacher one day?
  • What made you choose to go into the teaching field? What is your research about? How do you want it to improve the way people are taught in the future?
  • Where there any negative experiences you had as a student, and if so, how have you tried to make sure students you teach now don’t have that bad experience
  • Let’s look at the bright side! Any positive experiences?
  • In 20 years’ time, how do you envision the educational process?
  • What have we, at UofT Engineering, done to embrace technology as a tool to educate students? Are we behind? What can we do better?
  • As this podcast is heard mostly by people in university, is there a particular piece of advice you’d like to point out?