Contributor: Greg Rivera, Senior Digital Educator at Cengage Learning.

We can’t deny that technology is here to stay. But that is definitely not a bad thing! In fact, using educational technology can help engage students, improve retention and help students succeed. There are several educational technologies (including free or almost free ones) that can help you with these endeavors.

Think about our contemporary (millennial) students and some of their characteristics when it comes to technology First of all, they embrace technology/  That doesn’t mean they’re good at all technologies but they’ve grown up with it so it’s always been a part of their lives. Face it, our students have probably never popped popcorn except in a microwave, have probably never changed the channel on a TV without a remote control, and have probably never ridden in a car without a seat belt.  Second, they expect immediacy. They want it and they want it now. That includes answers to homework activities and an immediate answer to an email about an issue they may be having. Third, students deem all sources of information as equal.  You, the professor, are not the only expert (read: Wikipedia, YouTube videos, even what their friends tell them).

Technology has changed how we communicate with students, how we share information in class, how students read and use textbooks. How students find and process information, and how they do class work and homework. If you’re over 40 years old, think about how you had to plan when writing a research paper. First, you had to check the hours at the library, plan that trip, go to the card catalog, go to the book stacks or the dreaded microfiche.  Then you had to photocopy your materials and inevitably forget to write down a resource and have to go back the next day! Our students of today can wake up the morning… I mean afternoon that the paper is due and write it from the comfort of their home!

One of the things that technology has done is taken us from a culture of standardization to a culture of customization and I don’t think we can argue that that is a bad thing. Not every student is created equal and not every student prefers to learn the same way. Technology has helped us to shake this up. It is not fair for us to think that our students are going to be engaged and learn the way that we personally did!

Research overwhelmingly concludes that educational technology can impact learning in the following ways:

  1. Engage students
  2. Enhance student success
  3. Improve efficiency and save time
  4. Create a student-centered classroom
  5. Provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking
  6. Provide convenience
  7. Increase productivity
  8. Provide individual and total class assessment data
  9. Enhance flexibility

Who doesn’t want all of the above?

So, you do not have to be tech-savvy to incorporate technology into your course! I always tell people to start with baby steps. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel so the best start is using publisher created content like interactive multimedia eBooks and/or learning solutions like MindTap. You can always customize it to include the content and materials that are important to you and you can always hide or delete the content that is not.

If you want to go a step further or if you want to create your own edtech presentations or activities, I recommend the following:

  1. Jing allows you to capture a screen shot or record a video of your screen that can help you communicate with more clarity and impact than you can with written words alone.
  • Record procedures or tutorials and answer frequently asked questions
  • Give students audio-visual feedback (next best thing to a one-on-one conversation)
  • Record lessons that students can access anytime, anywhere
  • Make a video to help a guest teacher and/or students if you have to miss class
  1. GoAnimate allows users to quickly and easily make videos consisting of animated characters. It features easy-to-use drag and drop tools and libraries filled with a variety of characters, props, backgrounds, and music.

GoAnimate can be used to…

  • Explain or review a concept and make it more memorable
  • Summarize a reading
  • Provide remediation
  • Give directions or instructions sessions
  • Practice language skills (writing and listening)
  • Allow students to express creativity
  • Flip your classroom
  1. Padlet is a web space where you can add files, link, videos and more and then share publicly or privately. Imagine having students go up to a  wall and sticking stuff to it.  Well, that is Padlet – but virtually!

Use Padlet to:

  • Use as KWL chart
  • Have students collaborate group work or group research
  • Post content for students—Flipped Classroom
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Assess student knowledge
  • Showcase students’ work

If you need some one-on-one help, there are several groups within Cengage Learning that can help you.  In fact, they’d LOVE to help you! On a local level, we have Implementation Technology Specialists that visit your campus and train instructors on Cengage Learning technologies in groups or one-on-one.  We also have Digital Solutions Coordinators that work at a desk and are just a quick phone call or email away and can usually help you that same day!  And finally, my group, the Digital Educators (DE), go a step further.  Not only do the DEs know how to use technologies but since we are all educators in this group, we always frame it from a pedagogical standpoint.  In other words, along with showing you how to use the technology, we will also give you best practices from a first-hand perspective.  Your first step can easily be calling one of us here at Cengage Learning.  We are eager to help you learn and succeed!
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This content comes from a collaboration between Cengage Learning and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), a membership organization committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges. Recognizing the growing need for adjunct support, Cengage Learning and NISOD are partnering to co-host a series of webinars, podcasts, and blog posts covering professional development topics for adjunct faculty and administrators. To learn more about this partnership, visit //