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Disrupting the Classroom

AUTHORS COLE W. CAMPLESE AND SCOTT MCDONALD developed and co-taught a graduate course in Penn State Uni- versity’s College of Education called “Disruptive Technologies in Teaching and Learning.” The course combined the rigor of graduate-level instruction in theoretical, pedagogical concepts with practical guidance in the application of technology to teach- ing and learning contexts. The class focused not on technologies but on the pedagogical possibilities of disruptive technologies and how to design learning opportunities around these technologies. The authors argue that disruption can be viewed as a positive and important aspect of teaching. Rather than deriding new technologies as distract- ing for their students, they suggest that future edu- cators should embrace technological disruption as part of a natural social evolution in the way people learn. Central to the notion of disruption is Web 2.0 and its associated evolving social technologies. These tools are transforming the way we think about ourselves, our communication with others, our forms of education, and even our knowledge and expertise. During the graduate course, the authors saw stu- dents engaged in rigorous conversations about the core tenets of the class, both online and offline, at all hours of the day and throughout the week. The students coalesced into a learning community, in large part because of their work to understand how the social environments function and how to best engage one another in these spaces. In-class inter- action reinforced much of this sense of community, but the surprisingly extensive use of the online spaces led the authors to ask new questions about how to blend technologies into a more productive learning space. Tools at first treated as disruptive (laptops, Internet connections, online social envi- ronments) were used by students to ask questions, provide resources, gain confidence, and interact in ways that shattered the authors’ previously estab- lished ideas about how a class should work. The authors have come to see is that disruption does exist, and it can be utilized to help create new learning environments in which students are ulti- mately more engaged and effective. This article explores what the authors consider to be core themes challenging the traditional view of technology’s impact on teaching and learning.

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