May 30th, 2012

Technology in the Classroom: Assets and Liabilities


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.

In my work as the director of faculty development I’ve been observing the ubiquitous and pervasive infusion of technology in education over the past 20 years, but at a seemingly accelerated rate during the past five years with the advent of wireless networks, smart phones, tablets, and increasingly more powerful laptops. I’m sure this trend will not abate or slow, which begs the questions, what are we educators going to do about it?

I work in a college of osteopathic medicine and we run two curricula; a fairly traditional PBL model and a Case Based model. Both consist of small (7 or 8), intact (for each quarter) groups with one facilitator. The major difference between them is that the PBL model does not include traditional lectures and all student work is done around the cases while in the Case Based model students have a more traditional lecture/lab set up. Also, in PBL the cases are unfolded slowly and the students identify their own learning issues while in the Case Based model the instructors identify the case learning issues though authored questions and new cases are used each week. The facilitators in both models have very similar roles and come from all disciplines.

It is my contention that as educational and classroom leaders we have a responsibility to set clear expectations, which is Job One of all good leaders. I’d like to share one practical strategy we used to do just that in terms of communicating our expectations for using technology in the classroom.

First we gathered all our small group facilitators (we use clinicians, basic and social scientists and student fellows) for an hour-long event in which we asked them to work together to do three things: 1) identify the assets of these tools; 2) identify the liabilities of these tools; and 3) establish some reasonable ground rules to maximize the assets and minimize the liabilities. Below is one example of what we came up with after just an hour. It’s been very helpful to a) deal with issues overtly, b) wrestle with how to leverage the assets and liabilities, and c) provide a platform for open discussion. As you read it, I encourage you to think about how you might adapt it to work within the context of your courses.

Statement of the Challenge: Our school and students are rapidly moving away from paper-based products and using computers and other electronic devices to accomplish their work. This growing electronic technology pervasiveness in the small group setting requires us to think critically about its impact on small group work. Therefore, by explicitly stating the primary purposes of the small group-learning format, and outlining the major assets and liabilities/challenges of this emerging development, we have developed some “rules of engagement” for consideration by your group.

Just-in-time information
Learn how to use technology (individually & in a small group)
Divided attention so some are missing the work of the group or having private study
Tools to make group more efficient & interdependent Distraction and/or diversion of group work
Can be used to create “shared experience” Time sink for searches
Instant tool to look up definitions quickly for group Source reliability and validity
Projection of scribe work on screen Computer operation and presenter control
Ability to save scribe work as .doc or .pdf files File organization
Projection of notes, diagrams, pictures on screen File sharing
Ability to save any notes, diagrams, pictures on screen Not using the technology wisely
Instant question submission to weekly Synthesis & Integration Panel Leaning on technology rather than learning
Emails to and from experts in group Instant Evidence Based Medicine work (discourages preparation?)
Paperless educating/learning Slows the group down
Easier to administer progressive disclosure Greater preparation required on the part of the facilitators and the block case writers
Will eliminate paper copies Technology training required
Physical barrier to group participation

Suggested “ground rules” for heading off potential misuses of technology:
1. Discussion is still supreme (as opposed to reading off a screen).
2. Laptop work must be related to the groups tasks (no personal email, chat or other surfing/playing).
3. System should be used for sharing information (send to Blackboard and bring up in class as favorite resources).
4. Scribe should control the technology for the session.
5. Wrap up should include evaluation of how the technology is being used.
6. Group agrees on what they believe is appropriate use.
7. Give immediate feedback if technology is being used inappropriately.
8. Agree that it is not appropriate to look up work that should have been prepared in advance.
9. Purpose of technology is to enhance group effectiveness.
10. Quick look-ups allowed (less than 60 seconds)
11. Single, group-only computer. No individual users.

Note that the identified ground rules are simply suggestions for the group to negotiate. We encourage the facilitators to lead the group in a discussion so the group has ownership. Our experience with this has consistently shown a more cohesive and unified group in terms of use of technology.

We feel this method helped us document some of the issues and moved us from victims to victors by allowing us to proactively begin to capitalize on emerging technologies as they become the new tools of the trade.

Stephen S. Davis, PhD is the director of faculty development at Ohio University, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

11 comments on “Technology in the Classroom: Assets and Liabilities

  1. Technology is here to stay, so we might as well make the best of it. One of my friends is a high school history and social studies teacher, and very often students ask factual questions that are not in the book. He has them do a "smart-phone race" to see who can come up with the correct answer first. Ground rules are that smart phones stay on the desk at all times and are not used to text, Facebook, etc. in class. When the principal saw how excited the students were about learning, using this technology, he lifted the ban on cell phones during school hours–within these guidelines, of course. The students went on to have an 87% pass rate on their SOL's.

  2. Nowadays, we are familiar when we heard the word technology,.,this technology in classroom: ASSETS and LIABILITIES it is simply say that when we teach to our pupils or to our students, it easy to teach by using this kind of technology we can now have a power point presentation while we are going to discussed topics…..and also we can do our assignment S OR even conduct a research…it is easy to do..If we can know on how to used this kind of technology nowadays…we are going to needs more knowledge to gain so that if weare going to teach, we can now better to share our efficiency to our students or pupils.

  3. Technology is omnipresent nowadays, but a person must use it wisely. See to it that it has a benefit/s to you, helping you in a productive manner and also we must know the limitations, advantages and disadvantages using this. Knowing its weaknesses and strengths helps us to decide on how this will helps us in our daily endeavor.

  4. Technology helps us make our work easier. In classroom, it makes the teaching-learning process more interesting and more efficient. We must consider the importance and limitations of using it. We must use technology wisely. As educators, we must be responsible in order for us to be good leaders.

  5. We all know that nowadays,technology is growing faster. This technology are now being use in teaching- learning process to make the the lesson more effective. But,did we all know the positive and negative effect of using the technology? So, we must aware of this,and use the technology wisely.

  6. In this article I can say that the fusion of technology in education is very fast, using of computers and other gadgets is a new trend of their education.Computers, wireless networks, smartphone, tablets and other gadgets is part of their learning, yes these gadgets help us to make our work easier but sometimes to much usage of this can make a person dependent of these gadgets. Using of gadgets is not bad but we need to use it in a good manner and not too much because it can make a person lazy. Technology help to make our work more easier and in learning we already using it to make our discussion more effective and productive. So even technologies help us in many ways we need to use it in natural ways of learning or combine it to the technologies. So if computers is a new trend of education so its not impossible for this generation and for the next generation to make a person a part of their living and without these maybe they cant work hardly without the use of technologies.

  7. We are now living in a world that surrounded by different devices or technologies that makes everything easy. And recently educators uses different devices to make their teaching more effective. But we are aware that most of the students, even in a grade level pupils knows how this gadgets or technology runs, to put it simply they almost know everything about technology .And it implies that we educators must be very careful in using this gadgets in teaching,we must be aware of the proper way on how we are going to establish or teach our students using this kind of strategy.

  8. In this present days technology is rapidly growing anywhere particularly in modernization of teaching all over the globe. We can easily access to the different technology that will greatly help us in our daily activities in school, home, at work or wherever we are. Even though there are so much benefit in using modern technology specially in better classroom arrangement, there are times that we forget how to use it properly. Using technology in classroom management can fall into two categories,it can be(a.)assets or (b.)liabilities.

  9. Nowadays, using technology in the classroom are present everywhere and it is spreading throughout into every part of the world. It is helpful to us, easy to operate and many functions use at the same time. As I've read this article , using technology in the classroom has an advantages and disadvantages. Using technology are not all appropriate in all activities in the teaching-learning process. Students also need paper and pencil method that may enhance and to develop the other skills of the students.

  10. We all know that nowadays technology is everywhere, at home, school, work place, mall and other places. This article has significant ideas of what is happening in teaching with the presence of technology. It’s about the advantages and disadvantages of technology in teaching methods. There are lots of advantage and disadvantage in using technology in teaching, but we must be aware that discussion is a very effective way of disseminating or giving information to the student, we should not rely on the latest technology because we must consider the appropriateness of the gadgets that we are using. And as a future teacher, it is our responsibility to know whether the technology that we are using is appropriate in the topics that we are going to discuss.

  11. Of what we are today is the product of yesterday!; as the saying goes it could gently comes into my mind that today as we engaged in the world of technology we are somehow on our way to build a better world especially in the world of teaching and learning environment likewise we are quite comfortable in the easy access that it gives for us to find solutions to our problems and the answers to our inquiries. Many thought that technology is more effective but i disagree because sometimes it is better to have research on what is already written nor published than to have a links an a web because sometimes some information that internet nor web gives is not reliable in a sense that quite times we dont even know where the data come from.

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