more homewok!!!0001_JPG_t285I write this blog while sitting in on the Environmental Issues opening lecture where I teach part-time. I teach the lab portion of this course — a time set to discuss and debate issues (the fun part of the course in my mind). I sit in on the lecture as an auditor, to keep in tune with what's said in lecture so we can further discuss it in lab. This is something I've done at the School of Natural Resources for twenty years now; and I've taught all programs, from Ecosystem Management to Heavy Equipment.

So, why am I writing about this? Well, the instructor who's giving the lecture has just asked the students what are the main issues at this point in time, and they just blew him away with their knowledge and concern. The interesting part about all this though is that this course has lately been under the gun to be dropped here at the college due to the lack of interest from the students. I don't get that. They seem concerned about the issues they just listed off to the instructor as I sit her and tap away on the lab top. Maybe they are still interested but it's the way they are being taught that is more of a concern. For example, the lecture is two hours in length. And it's a lecture, not a discussion. One person stands in front of 250 students and preaches in a black and white manner of issues on hand — the same issues that the students are already well informed and aware on. The visuals are an overhead design powerpoint made up of key points that the instructor are stating. So what's my point with this? Well, the attention span of a Generation Y student these days happens to be a mere 8 minutes. In fact, by the time I've typed the last few lines of this text, twelve students have left the lecture room, the guy to the left of me is asleep and the women to my right is chatting with her girlfriend about what happened at the pub last night. And the lecture has one-hour and forty minutes left to go. Yikes!

So, since I'm bored too, I think I'll do an experiment. I'm going to link to a YouTube video of the same subject that the instructor is now discussing — the oil sands in Alberta issue.

Wait for it…

Just one more minute…

Yes, I have the sound muted…

Now, let's see what the experiment has proven.

Okay, I've now counted twenty-six students, basically about 99% of the students who are around me (the 1% is the guy who is still asleep beside me) who are now looking over at my computer screen, rather then the instructor who's still lecturing (and hasn't noticed I've created a stir amongst the group).

Now, I'm going to check out another course I'm teaching this semester. It's titled Ecology and the Environment — and it's an on-line course.

Wow, there are 23 or the 27 students checking out and making use of the discussion forum at this given point in time. Why is that so special? Well, it's the first day and the first hour of classes for the semester. I'd say that the participation online over exceeds the two-hour lecture I'm now sitting in.

The times, they are definitely changing.

But wait a minute. The guy beside me has just woke up, and is he ever pissed off. He didn't agree or like what the instructor has just said. It seems the instructor has blamed a lot of environmental damage on farmers; and the guy beside me happens to be a son of a farmer. He put his hand up for a comment but the instructor didn't notice. So he blurted out his view point. YOU'RE WRONG!

Maybe the lecture will now change for the better. Maybe this is going to get good. Maybe the lecture will turn into discussion, the same type of discussion that's now happening online. Heck, the women to my right even stopped chatted with her friends and agreed with the guy who just woke up.

No. It's seems the instructor just ignored him and continued showing his overheads and lecturing. And half-a-dozen more students just got up and left — including my farmer friend to my left and the women to my right.

I guarantee that instructor's view of all this when I see him in the coffee room this afternoon is that the students no longer care about the environment and that our earth is doomed.

Let me know what you think, and I guarantee to share it with the students next week — online and off.