Faculty Response, Swarthmore College


I spoke informally to other faculty in my building at Swarthmore.
Q. What is the course content and what are the pedagogical approaches
for which you want to draw on technological resources?

-excepting the obvious instances where video technology was front and
centre, those teaching cinema courses for historical or sociological causes
(Soviet Cinema, Visual Anthropology Practicum), many leaned to:
-working through statistical programs with laptops projecting onto
screens (a few do this now); to
using video clips for classroom discussion (hard to do given the distractions,
though there was much thought to fantasies of digital players which make
it easier to track samplings)
as a general rule, the latter point emphasizes the question of ILLUSTRATION
of already existing pedagogic platforms. This seems a natural transition
zone en route to what later may likely be a very different kind of pedagogical
imagination as more and more of this technology enters the classroom.

Q. Map out the range and variation, including both the content and the
kinds of resources you encounter and need.

For example, Swarthmore in particular suffers from a woefully underfunded
and understaffed slide library. The majority of those I talked to remarked
on how energetic and innovative the director is, but how few resources
we've been able to marshal given the college's reluctance to fund new technologies
since they change so quickly.

To this end, perhaps the most common refrain was how much easier it
would be if each classroom could somehow have its own generic, bolted-down,
laptop, not one you would have to carry from pillar to post in the havoc
of the teaching day, which could then be used to project illustrations
for teaching anything from history to nationalism to portraits of famous
social scientists... Virtually all faculty were enthusiastic about donating
their time to this kind of enhancement, but most were reluctant to invest
the time until there is some sense of what is worth the effort, how it
works, and what will be around long enough for them to profit from instructionally.

Q. What roles and responsibilities do you currently assume regarding
the use and instruction of technology?

-as above: statistical charts using an active laptop projected on to
a screen; others preferred the ease and familiarity of an overhead. Most
are confined only to occasionally showing video clips or films.

Q. What goals do you have for collaboration in this area?

Many of my colleagues are now looking more to the Library for direction,
less so than on Media Services, who have been the main backup over the

Q.What resources are you considering devoting to its future development?

Reading the emails that the College serves up!

Bruce Grant
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Swarthmore College