Teaching with Technology
Teaching with technology isn’t just about staying current on the latest tools, it’s about knowing how to successfully incorporate the best tools into your teaching when and where it makes sense. This article series looks at the benefits of using technology, as well as potential stumbling blocks. You’ll also get an inside look at best practices for using technology to enhance teaching and learning – whether you teach in a traditional classroom or online.
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.
I have always enjoyed watching YouTube videos and when I noticed that some of the videos dealt with serious literary topics and had re-enactments of Shakespeare plays, I began to wonder if I could not incorporate them into my literature classes. Instead of students just reading a text version of Othello, why not have them also watch a live performance of Othello to get them more motivated to learn literature?
Digital Natives are all around us. They populate our college courses and use the newest mobile technologies to communicate, collaborate, create and share information on social media sites. There is, however, often a disconnection on their path to learning. Quite often we find Digital Native students taught by Digital Immigrant professors (Prensky, 2001) who fear, dismiss or are unaware of the potential learning power of Web 2.0 technologies.
College course work is meant to be challenging. The content and the vocabulary used are often unfamiliar to many students. For at-risk learners, the challenges are even greater. In some cases, these students have physical or learning disabilities that create accessibility issues, other times the challenges may be the result of the fact that they’re an international student, have anxiety issues, or a strong learning style preference that runs counter to the instructor’s style.
It’s an almost unquestioned assumption that written assignments need to be used to assess student learning. While traditional writing assignments are appropriate for many types of assessments, there is no law requiring it for all assessments. I’ve had students construct Wikipedia entries, make Voicethreads, and build online games as assessments.
Twenty-first Century research is increasingly becoming reliant on information and communication technologies to address systemic and distinct educational problems through greater communication, interaction, and inquiry. Research is an interactive inquiry process. In many instances this involves interaction with people. We also interact with technology and through technology to improve our educational practice. Practitioner research seeks to understand the underlying causes enabling personal and organizational change (Reason & Bradbury, 2001).
November 22 - Using Peer Review to Improve Student Writing
As teachers we know that our written work is not ready for publication until it has been reviewed by a variety of colleagues for commentary and edits. External review is needed even for good writers because we have a hard time seeing our own writing errors. Plus, we need that extra feedback to sharpen our ideas, discover new directions to take, and generally elevate our work to publication quality.
Interactive, synchronous web conferencing software such as WebEx, Blackboard Collaborate and even Skype are innovative tools that can be implemented by faculty teaching both hybrid and fully online courses. When faculty at Towson University began using WebEx to incorporate a synchronous component to their courses, they discovered that interactive web conferencing (IWC) delivers many benefits.
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.
I’ve long said that professors who want to explore teaching with technology should begin with a social media tool rather than a Learning Management System. Web 2.0 tools are simple to use, invite student collaboration, and are usually less administratively clunky and complex than an LMS.