female with smart phone November 2, 2015

The Power of Podcasting Redux


It’s no secret that technology continues to transform the way educators teach and the way students learn. Increasingly, students want to be able to learn on their own terms–that is, they want to be able to study whenever, wherever, and however they choose, and they expect institutions and faculty to be accommodating. We’ve likely all had students who for one misguided reason or another believed that their professors—particularly those teaching online—were available around the clock to answer questions, provide feedback, and generally just be there if needed. As unrealistic as this belief is, wouldn’t it be nice if instructors could approximate being available 24/7? Well, you can—sort of—through the power of podcasting.

students at computer October 2, 2015

Taking the Tech Out of Technology


Discussion boards. Google documents. YouTube videos. TED Talks. Khan Academy. These are just a few of the many resources some of us have used in our ever-growing arsenal of techie tools. We want to stay on the cutting edge. The Sloan Consortium (now Online Learning Consortium) predicts this trend toward an increased usage of technology will continue into the foreseeable future. So we continue to hone our skills, taking advantage of an ever-increasing array of technological options. We attend conferences, exchange ideas with colleagues, read up on the latest innovations—all in the interest of keeping our teaching on the technology edge. But I sometimes worry that we may have gone over the edge.

Students at computers June 29, 2015

Using Google Web Apps to Improve Student Engagement


In general education humanities courses, at least two problems seem universal:
1. How to blend the teaching of content and the teaching of critical thinking skills that are transferrable to other fields
2. How to encourage student participation and engagement

For years, my typical approach to these problems has been to “flip the classroom” and make my students more responsible for their own learning. I have minimized my lecturing and used carefully crafted discussion questions and small group in-class assignments to move my students through critical thinking processes as they unravel the complexities of literary texts.

Student-led group discussion May 15, 2015

Professor and Students Share Reactions to the Flipped Classroom


Professor Philip LaRocco is reimagining his Energy Business and Economic Development course with digitized lecture materials, collaborative assignments, and real-time feedback. With funding from Columbia University’s Office of the Provost, LaRocco teamed up with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) to build a learning environment more conducive to the world in which his students currently intern, and plan to work in post-graduation. He is following a “flipped classroom” model—filming some of his lectures and making them available to students prior to class meetings—making way for more elaborate group review, discussions, and other collaborative assignments during class.

iStock_000013516629Small August 4, 2014

Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat: Technology Projects to Decrease Passivity


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.

October 30, 2012

Students Say More Instructors Are Using Technology Effectively, ECAR Study Finds


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.

April 10, 2012

Media Richness and Communication in Online Education


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).

October 26, 2011

Determining the Best Technology for Your Students, Your Course, and You


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.

August 18, 2010

Save Time and Teach Better with Screencasting


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.