Plus ça change

Leigh Wolf forwarded me a link to a video commercial with the subject line saying “this is a very intriguing commercial.” Of course I took a look at it right away and it was an ad for Kaplan U (on their website) … and according to Smita it has been receiving TV time as well. The original (whatever that means in a digital world) can be found here or see the Youtube version below:

[youtube width=”425″ height=”355″]http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=e50YBu14j3U[/youtube]

Now I watched the video and I was impressed. I have thought similar things often, and sometimes have even said them (maybe even on this very blog). Moreover, this is a well made video, impressive production values, a very nice voice, beautiful people set to nice mood music… but by the time I reached the end of the commercial, something just didn’t feel right.

It struck me that it was somewhat ironic ironic that for all the talk about different ways of learning, the only example of learning/teaching that was shown in the video involved listening to an older man give a lecture. (Not that I have anything against older men, particularly since I seem to be increasingly playing the part.) Of course, the lecture being delivered shifted from being received face to face to running on ipods and laptops, it moved from a physical classroom to a personal space (which could be a train station with perfect lighting, or a messy, though in a cute kind of way, kitchen table).

All these changes in venue and tools apart, one thing didn’t change. The mode of instruction was still a lecture!

As Alphonse Karr famously said, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, or in other words, The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It seems to me that as long as we keep thinking of technologies as merely supporting existing pedagogies we will not be able to enjoy their true benefit, these technologies will not be able to live up to their true potential.

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