registers anything is when there is change—change in movement, change in sound, change in lighting, change in odor, change in sensation, change in thought. You get the idea. The brain is the ultimate “change detection” machine. Our perception is always the perception of something changing.
I sense students fall into a routine of “sameness” when all their courses “look alike,” when they know what to expect every class. Maybe it’s: “Come in. Sit down. Listen. Take Notes. Pack up. Leave.” Or, “Log on. Watch Video. Discussion Board. Take Quiz. Log out.” Class after class after class. The same goes for how the course actually “looks”—that is, how the presentation of our material “appears.” For instance, if all our courses are on Canvas, and all our Canvas shells literally “look alike,” then that routine works against generating novelty and change, which is the basis for
perception and learning. (I’m not speaking of things not unorganized, inaccessible and unclear to students, but a sense students may have of things being “cookie cutter” or “mechanical.”)
The whole goal of education, I think, is not to make teaching “easier,” but to help students “learn better.” Hence, we find ourselves in a conundrum—be less novel and more efficient (which results in less effective learning for students, but less stress and work for us), or be more novel and creative (which means we have to work harder so that students learn better).
To be frank, over the last decade—with the exponential spread, adoption and reliance on electronic learning systems, I’ve witnessed a lot more of the former. This correlates with multiple measures of decline in student learning, both at the secondary and college levels. So what are we to do? (Stand by for Part 2 next week!)