integrating technology into your teaching
Passivity still seems to be the norm for most college courses: students passively try to learn information from teachers who unwittingly cultivate a passive attitude in their learners. As the subject matter experts, many faculty are reluctant to give up some control. We know the material, there’s a lot to cover, and let’s face it, going the lecture route is often just plain easier for everyone. We “get through” the material, and students aren’t pressed to do anything more than sit back and take notes. Teacher and student thus become complicit in creating a passive learning environment.
Students are giving their instructors high marks for using technology effectively. Results from latest annual technology survey by Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) found that 68 percent of the more than 100,000 students surveyed said that most or all of their instructors effectively use technology to advance their academic success. That’s up from 47 percent just two years ago.
After reading the Faculty Focus Special Report “Social Media Usage Trends Among Higher Education Faculty” I was spurred to share a best practice regarding the use of technology in the classroom.
Communicating in an online environment, especially within the confines of an institution’s learning management system (LMS) and an academic budget, often poses a challenge to even the most well-intentioned instructors. Many times we find ourselves constrained not by our imaginations or abilities but by the technological tools we have at our disposal. Given the systems in which we work, how do we select the best technological tool—the best medium—to communicate a message? One framework for answering these questions is through the lens of Media Richness Theory (MRT).
The number of technologies available to both higher education institutions and individual instructors seems to grow each day. With tools that promise to increase engagement, communication, interaction, efficiencies, and learning, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s also easy to make bad choices — choices that could result in wasted money, time, or learning opportunities, all the while causing undue frustration for students and faculty alike.
It is critical to spend time training your students how to properly use the systems you’ve adopted into your teaching repertoire. A common fallacy is to believe that because students today are “digital natives”—meaning that they grew up with technology—they are good at using any technology. I’ve found that students’ understanding of technology is narrow and deep. They are very adept at text messaging and navigating Facebook, but they are not versed in using blogs, wikis, document sharing systems, and the like.
t was August 26, 2009. That evening I receive a phone call from someone in Japan looking to create free online math and science courses on mobile devices for youth in India using existing shared online video. The following day, I get an email from a colleague at a university in Canada who had just read my new book, The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. Many points made in the book seemed to resonate with him except for my advocacy of YouTube videos in teaching. Like most faculty members, he was very reluctant to show the YouTube homepage to his class because an offensive video might be featured.