I’ve just returned from the 2008 NAR Convention in Orlando, Florida. I got the opportunity to take some instructor-updates and spend time with several instructors. Some of the things I heard, were disconcerting to me. Several of these instructors were ranting about the students bringing laptops and blackberry’s into the classroom. One instructor went as far as to state that he refuses to even allow these devises in the building (while he was on this rant, I was checking e-mail on my blackberry.) While listening to these discussions, I realized that the issue was not the learning experience nor the student; but the bruised ego of the instructor.
Computers in the Classroom
In this era, its more important than ever that student environments are conducive to learning and minimizing the impact on the agent’s business. We’ve been talking about how the industry has been changing so rapidly over the past few years, why is it therefore, a surprise that Agent Education hasn’t evolved as well? Many of the agents have graduated college in the past 10 years or so, and they are accustomed to taking notes on their laptops, checking out the online references you are giving them and generally using technology to help enhance the educational experience.
You have to earn "center-stage"
Each time I hear an instructor’s rhetoric regarding banning computers in the classroom, all I can surmise is that the instructor isn’t more captivating than the learner’s e-mail. It’s not the students responsibility to be engaged, it’s the speaker’s responsibility to engage the student. I’ve recently walked in to a class, following another instructor and found a student who had been reading a romance novel in the back of the classroom. Within a few minutes the leaner had put the book down and was fully involved in the classroom. Now, the student was rude in the first place; she only engaged me because I began with a controversial topic – but I did get her attention. For the rest of the time the student did not engage her novel, she engaged the class.
In my school, we installed power outlets in the floor and added free wireless internet. Its been one of the best selling points for classroom study, and the worst side affect is that the students actually go to the resources we discuss, we have immediate access to research answers to questions the instructor may not know; and students are less anxious about what they are missing in their office, when they can quickly check their e-mail in the classroom. Its up to the instructor to utilize the student’s technology needs and bringing the trends of today into the learning experience. Will there be students who are offended that others are brining laptops in the classroom? Sure… However, as an instructor I desire to be the voice of the future – not of the past.
If you can’t keep the student’s attention – its you and not them.