The tides have changed for the development of material as we move away from face to face contact to a more digital approach. Although the technological advancements, together with the availability of and access to smart devices, are at the order of the day, the development and advancement of teaching and learning materials in this space are a slow process.
There are, in my opinion, many reasons for this, such as a weariness for the unknown, meaning that the academics who are responsible for the development of content are often ‘stuck’ in their ways, and do not really bother with something that they are not comfortable with. Old habits die hard.
But, in many cases, like my own, the resistance against a digital approach is short lived when the benefits and opportunities and different options are explored. Pen and paper, or blackboard and chalk, and whiteboard and markers, can only do so much. Although it can be quite entertaining and gives a lecturer the opportunity to express himself, it is also limiting. Making use of PowerPoint and having slides were sufficient in the past, but with modern advancements, together with the learning styles and capabilities of modern students, it is clear that a basic slideshow is not going to be adequate anymore. Modern learners and students have a shorter attention span, and tend to get bored easily, and normally turn towards their smart devices for entertainment. It is in this light that it is imperative for lecturers and facilitators to engage in blended learning, where there is face to face, hard copy aspects together with an online and digital approach. It is my opinion that a digital platform where students can engage with themselves, other students as well as lecturers, together with options to complete and submit tasks, ultimately saving themselves – and the lecturers – time and effort, as well as paper and other resources.
Resistance is normal – fear of change and an unwillingness to move from a comfort zone are normal aspects in similar cases. I am of the opinion that the process should be a gradual one, and that the development and implementation of such a system and processes be at a reasonable pace. The future is happening as we speak… and we need to embrace the opportunities and challenges that come with it. The teaching and learning space is a very effective platform to roll out new advancements, as these skills will be carried over to the next generations.