41 Years of Teaching and Technology

Rick Matthews presented this talk as the first ever online-only colloquium for the Department of Physics on March 25, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic closed campus, so he took his talk to Zoom.

Rick shares his idiosyncratic perspective on changes in technology, changes in teaching, and how they influenced each other from the 1970s to the present. He began graduate school just as “minicomputers” became so small they could fit in a lab and so cheap they were less than a middle-class home. Within a few short years, computers would fit on a desktop and cost less than a used Buick. Then someone decided we should connect them all together!

Advances in understanding of how students learn were equally rapid, though not as universally recognized and deployed. The WFU Physics Department tapped into these ideas early and embraced the new pedagogies. Many of the most important pedagogical advances would not have been possible without the parallel advances in technology.

Rick leads us through a retrospective of these changes and how they shaped his own experiences and practices.