There is no denying that we live in a digital age. So the question that begs asking is, why are our professors not in the same boat as us? They came into this digital age the same time we did so how come we, students, are leaps and bounds ahead of them?
T. Mills Kelly in Chapter 5 of his book: “Teaching History in the Digital Age” discusses this exact problem. He notes how less then 10% of faculty use Web 2.0 medias such as blogs, twitter etc. As such, these professors are very much out of tune with their students and are likely teaching “their students about the past in ways that are very far removed from the reality of students lives”. Kelly also notes that with Web 2.0 comes new ways to discover, teach, and learn history. Something that students have already discovered but professors of history are lacking in.
I agree and disagree with this part of the chapter. First let us discuss what I agree on.
There definitely is a general disconnect between student and teacher when it comes to the digital realm. This has nothing to do with students tweeting during class and making old jokes about the professor who thinks they are chirping like birds. This has to do with the educational disconnect. From emails to BlackBoard to really any digital tools. Professors do not know what to make of them and therefore some ban the use from in their classes. This puts a serious block to the students who can use these tools to their advantage and put out better work because of it. This isnt even just regarding the students side. The professor can use these tools also! The same tools that allow students to create wonderful work can help professors enhance their lectures and teachings. If the professors can adapt to Web 2.0 then not only will they teach better but students will also learn better.
Now the negative about this section in the chapter. T. Mills Kelly seems to label history professors as being completely stuck in the past (pun intended). He notes how the professors are “watching from the dock as the ship called Web 2.0 sails away, carrying our students off to a distant shore that we almost never visit”. But there are plenty of professors who are in the digital realm. They know how to use BlackBoard and other digital tools. There are professors who accentuate their teachings with uses of blogs, digital archives etc. History professors aren’t all stodgy old bookends; many of them are happily embracing the digital age and taking full advantage of it much like their students are.