I taught an advertising class as an adjunct professor at Wartburg College this semester. It was a great experience. I believe I learned more than the kids, but I quickly learned that teaching has changed since the last time I taught a class, some 20 years ago.
Here are a couple of my takeaways:
- Even rhetorical questions can be answered with a quick search on a smartphone.
- You can’t tell what students are doing if they have a laptop out. Are they taking notes, doing email or working on assignments for other classes?
- Asking students to make phone calls as a class assignment to find information is unproductive: Students would rather look up the information than use the smartphone to make a call.
I also observed the same activity at a conference I recently attended (but I was in the audience and not up at the podium). I could see what people were doing. Many, if not most, were using email. Some the entire time. Yet there was another phenomenon I noticed as well: When the screen was hard to read or the speaker was drifting around, many just went to the website of the company or searched what the person was talking about and pulled the information they needed.
During vendor presentations, some would look up competitors, search for pricing or search the general topic to see what else was available on the topic. This means you can’t fake it as a speaker. It also means you have to think about your searching, emailing, disengaged audience during your presentation. The big take away: is what you are saying worthy of pulling your audience away from their email? That is the real test in this digital age.