Guest Contributors: Bridgett McGowen-Hawkins, Senior Professional Educator, and Damon Givehand, Professional Educator, Cengage Learning Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development and Consulting.

 

Research tells us to add technology to our teaching, citing empirical evidence of how doing so makes undeniable differences in student knowledge construction, achievement, and overall success.

We accept the studies and readily admit they have real validity and noteworthy implications, but at the same time, as we think of adding technology to our teaching, we’re tuned into and listening to that radio station in the backs of our minds, HWI-AM, how will it aid me?  Here are five big reasons to add technology to your classrooms:

1.  Prime students to receive what you have to give!  Imagine being able to direct students to watch a video that illustrates a course concept before you discuss the concept in class.  How much more engaged or intrigued might students be in what you have to share in the next class?  And wouldn’t it be great to turn your lecture into more of a conversation rather than a monologue because now students have some background knowledge?  It helps if you provide students with guiding questions that frame their perspectives as they view the video, so they watch with purpose, then offer references to the video when you provide your in-class lectures.

2.  Reach all of them with the click of a mouse!  Course content will make sense to one student if he hears it, another if she sees it, and a third if he reads about it.  With options such as lecture casts, online discussion boards, and multi-media simulations, technology alleviates some of the work involved with catering to the different preferences in the room.  And when exposed to various learning modalities like these, learners’ comprehension stands to be more rounded than if just sticking with their dominant learning preference.

3.  Capitalize on an interest that’s already there!  Students arrive in our classrooms intimately familiar with technological devices, oftentimes resulting in faculty competing with the devices for students’ undivided attention.  You can take advantage of this sign of the times by merging their digital worlds with your academic world.  Perhaps students will do quick online searches right there in class, or they’ll Tweet their responses to a question you pose during a lecture.  To maintain discipline, though, always place parameters on the activity, e.g., preface device use with a statement that the only time you should see the devices is during the course of the activity in question.

4.  Help students become more tech savvy while preparing them for tomorrow!  It’s a pretty hard argument to sell that we are preparing students for the future when we aren’t even using today’s tools in the classroom.  We often assume that because many of our younger students today grow up in a digitally driven world surrounded by digital technology at nearly every turn, they all know how to use it all.  Try not to assume they already know how to best interact with technology.  It’s not unusual for a student to come to us clueless about technology.  By the time students leave us, though, we should have done what we could to prep them for the world in which they live and to, at least, have the option to actively participate in the world as it develops.

5.  Jump on the chance to teach responsibility!  Part of the work you do on your campus is to have students constantly examining and reflecting upon not only the information they receive but also the information they share with others.  Educators’ structured use of technology in the classroom can help students learn course content and realize some tools work better for some tasks than they do for others.  Do you want the world to have access to the information or only a select few?  Is time of the essence, or is a delayed response satisfactory?  You can help them understand how to decide whether a face-to-face conversation, a phone call, an email message or an instant message makes the most sense for the situation.  They can learn the best and most responsible way to use technology in their personal lives – something that you cannot accomplish if technology remains absent from your teaching.  Picture it.  You can move students to the point where IM-ing and LOL-ing aren’t all they can do on those little devices!

Looking for more information on this topic?  Please join Bridgett and Damon for a one-hour virtual workshop at 1PM ET on Thursday, March 06, “Doing It, and Doing It Well:  Creative Ideas for Mixing Technology and Teaching.” Register for the virtual workshop at the TeamUP Professional Online Portal. 

 

Bridgett McGowen-Hawkins is a Senior Professional Educator with Cengage Learning’s Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development and Consulting team, and she teaches for the Associate’s Program at the University of Phoenix.  Damon Givehand is a Professional Educator with Cengage Learning’s Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development and Consulting team, has ten years of online teaching experience, is an advocate for student success, and an expert on motivation.  See some of Bridgett’s and Damon’s other projects as well as more information on this blog topic at www.cengage.com/myteamup, and discover additional faculty development resources at the TeamUP Professional Online Development Portal.