Guest Contributor: Cathy Scott, Navarro College.

You may find that in developing your professional and leadership skills, it becomes necessary to test out new ways to be the most effective teacher you can be. Technology tools offer new ways to engage students and create an active learning environment. In this article, author and professor Cathy Scott outlines some of those available tools, but she points out that while integrating technology is important to promoting an active and engaging learning environment, you remain the most important part of your students’ learning experience. As you develop your skills, trying new things can help you enhance your own teaching style.

What technology tools have you used to enhance your teaching experience and your students’ learning experiences? Share with us in the comments section below.

Technology guru Bill Gates states “technology isn’t the teacher, it is simply a tool”. For today’s tech-savvy students, technology is often an important part of the overall learning experience; however, it doesn’t replace the most important part of the learning equation, the instructor. Therefore, when selecting technology tools for the classroom, it is important that instructors consider which technology tools best fit their teaching style. Are you looking to update your technology toolbox? If so, determine your teaching style(s), and then try one or more of these innovative tools.

The Energetic Lecturer: Replace your PowerPoint® presentation with the pizzazz of Prezi. Prezi lets you tell a story in a unique way. This concept map approach engages students as you move through the material.

The Collaborative Facilitator: Try flipping your classroom by using tools such as Camtasia or Screen Chomps to pre-record lectures or brief learning objectives for students to view before class. Homework managers, such as CengageNOW, also provide tools to prepare your students before class. Flipping the classroom leaves more class time available for hands on, collaborative, active-learning activities.

The Assessor: Tools such as PollEverywhere and Google Forms are great ways to receive immediate feedback from students. PollEverywhere uses cell phones, tablets or computers to ask multiple-choice or open ended-questions. Google Forms works great with polling online classes. Both of these tools are great ways to warm up or wrap up your class.

The Adventurer: Take your class on virtual field trips with YouTube videos, or have students Skype with valuable community/industry resources.

The Mover: Doceri may be just the tool if you move around the classroom. Doceri transforms your iPad into a mobile presenter, giving you the flexibility of presenting on the go.

The Team Builder: Try using tools like Google Docs, Google Sites, and LiveBinder for group projects. These electronic tools can help you track student participation, provide flexible online collaboration and serve as an electronic storage device. Coordinating group projects has never been easier.

The Coach: Tools like Livescribe Pen let you provide brief tutorials, as well as, record presentations and feedback for future grading. Virtual collaboration tools such as GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, WebEx, Google Talk, Blackboard Collaboration, Skype and now Facebook Chat are great ways to connect with students for tutoring or exam reviews.

These are just a few of the tools you can use in your Smart Classroom. There are many more available. When looking at technology tools for your courses, avoid using technology just because it is “new” or “cool”. Instead define the tool’s purpose, make sure it complements the activity, and aligns with your teaching style.

Cathy J. Scott is an Associate Professor of Accounting and the Accounting Program Coordinator at Navarro College. She is a proud recipient of Navarro College’s Teaching of Excellence Award. Cathy is co-author of
College Accounting, 11th Edition, which focuses on the significance of the College Accounting course as true groundwork for students’ future classes, jobs, and careers.