‘Teaching Naked’ provides strategies & insights into using technology as a college instructor

by Barbara Myslik
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Barbara Myslik

Barbara Myslik

In his book “Teaching Naked” José Antonio Bowen, the President of Goucher College, presents a fascinating new way of looking at a role technology plays in post secondary education. From the provoking title to the last chapter — filled with useful strategies, tips and insights — Bowen grabs our attention and provokes us to rethink technology as we know it.

The book is divided into three parts.

In Part One, titled “New digital landscape,” Bowen sets up the context. There are three basic truths regarding technology and its relationship with education that the author wants us to embrace before moving on to practical advice.

First, education online, or education using technology is no longer domain of post secondary institutions. Computer users all over the world can gain free access to content delivered in variety of ways suited to their learning preferences with no need for an educational institution intermediary.

That means, the value of what what it is that institutions of higher learning are delivering has to change. Higher education, according to Bowen, can no longer focus on delivering content. It needs to focus on delivering thinking skills to filter, understand, analyze and apply that content to new situations that are a part of our every day life.

Second aspect of new technologies changing the way we think of education is social proximity: we no longer need to physically meet our students face to face to foster a meaningful interaction with them.

Finally, video games and ever-present customization have forever changed the way that our students expect to learn. In this part, Bowen focuses on practical tips of how to incorporate gaming development and customization into the classroom.

Part Two of the book focuses on how to implement technology into the classroom and into a course design. Before developing that topic however, the very first chapter in this section of the book discusses research findings on brain development and learning. That gives the reader insight into the process itself and how technology can aid or inhibit the ways in which humans process information.

Next two chapters are brimming with recommendations on how to implement technology in service of different aspects of learning: information delivery, engagement and assessment. Filled with practical advice, tools, Web resources and techniques, Part Two is an exciting read for a practicing teacher and an invaluable resource for someone getting ready for that role. However, the most important message delivered in that part of the book is not tricks and ways to use technology.

First and foremost the author wants us to remember that technology is a tool, not a strategy. As great and useful as technology is, technology should never become a crutch or a substitute for thought provoking, meaningful teaching.

The last chapter in Part Two of the book gives specific tips on how to increase engagement and increase appeal of the class stripped of technology. In this part Bowen once more reiterates the importance and value of teacher-student interaction and its increased meaning, when time is not wasted on delivering content but instead on forming bonds and assisting student learning.

Part Three of “Teaching Naked” focuses on how changes in technology will inevitably affect variety of processes related to education. The most important message of this part of the book is how teachers, administrators and institutions of higher learning can use it to their advantage, instead of shying away from it, or hesitantly embracing it as late as possible.

Bowen’s insight into the education process influenced by technology is surprising and encouraging.

Often educators perceive technology either as a distraction or an obstacle in the process or, at best, an aid in traditional way of gaining knowledge.

Bowen proposes completely different approach by redefining what is the value that education, or strictly speaking educational institutions are supposed to provide.

Reading this book will forever change the way we can think of class time and technology in the classroom versus technology in the learning process as a whole.

Bowen doesn’t just ban technology from the classroom; he presents encouraging, alternative ways to incorporate it in the learning process outside of the classroom to make time in the class that much more valuable.

According to Bowen, using technology before and after class time gives value to student-teacher interaction and enables higher-level thinking. That way instead of being deliverers of content teachers can became facilitators of critical thinking, adaptation, and flexibility.

Barbara Myslik is a doctoral student in the College of Journalism and Communications and a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930).

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