I have spent a great amount of time in my career as a consultant and educator nursing my back and holding my breath. Where are the light switches in the hotel’s conference room? Will the screen come down when I push the button to begin my presentation? Picture, if you will, orange extension cords, covered with duct tape at critical intersections stretching north and south across meeting rooms. Someone in the audience, identifying themselves as an in-house safety guru, would inevitably give me feedback about the safety nightmare I was creating.
Many U.S. universities claim to be on the leading edge of high-tech innovation. Yet if you go into their classrooms they look pretty much like they did in 1973; lighting is poor, seating is uncomfortable and the state-of-the-art around classroom technology amounts to calling someone on the geek squad a week in advance to arrange for an LCD projector—but you’ll need to bring your own computer and any required cables and attachments. Of course, the night of your class you’d discover the guy got your message in a moment of distraction and forgot to set things up for your class. So forget the PowerPoint presentation or video you were hoping to share with your students and get ready to “tap dance.”
I say this because I had begun to think this was the way of the world. My life as an educator was about carrying and hauling and making countless low-tech teaching “diving catches” while living in a high tech world.
I recently stepped into classrooms at Yeungnam University where I am currently teaching in Korea. While I can’t yet be sure if this is universal across universities here, or even across this campus, each room is fitted with a huge electronic screen, a recessed networked computer, a sound system and a “wet board”--to replace the blackboard of past generations. Just last summer I was stymied while teaching in an accredited business school classroom in the States when I couldn’t find a piece of chalk to write on the blackboard. Here, at Yeungnam University, what I need to lead my class is a memory stick and a plan. My backpack and other paraphernalia remain in my office or home and, more appropriately, somewhere in the past.