Incorporating Technology in the Classroom

**This is part of the requirements of the Certificate in College Teaching Competency 3, details about the program can be read here**

Workshop: Inside Teaching Lounge- Engaging Students in Online Learning Spaces

Completed: November 13, 2014

Description: The “Incorporating Technology in the Classroom” helps graduate students learn how to successful use technology in standard, hybrid or online courses. In this workshop led by Donald Barringer and Beth Keller, we discussed best practices for using technology in the classroom, and a variety of digital tools that can aid in developing community and engaging students in online teaching environments. We discussed some of the major issues with using technology in the classroom, and then how to prevent these problems and successful use digital tools for teaching. As new teachers in the digital age, it is important that we know how to use technology and how to integrate into the curriculum to benefit the students.

The integration of technology into the classroom has dramatically increased over the past decade, and there are expectations that we as new faculty members will be able to use these technologies for teaching. As instructors, it is important that we not only know how to use these technologies, but that we understand how they fit into the curriculum and can be aligned with the broader course goals. Online courses have been used by the Department of Anthropology over the last few years, and we have steadily increased the number of courses that are offered online. This workshop helped me think more critically about how I integrate technology into the classroom, how digital tools need to be aligned with course goals, and helped me develop my own best practices for integrating technology into teaching.

Artifacts and Rationale: 

Artifact: Storify Story of the Workshop

Rationale: This Storify documents my participation in the workshop, and also serves as a record of my notes from the session.  Given that this was a workshop about technology, Storify allowed me to keep track of the digital tools that were being discussed by providing links to the various resources, and also allowed me to document the digital conversation occurring on the #teachlounge back channel. This artifact demonstrates my attendance and participation.

Artifact: My Best Practices for Engaging Students in Online Learning Spaces

Rationale: During the workshop, Barringer and Keller discussed the importance of having a set of best practices for engaging students in online learning spaces. These best practices document what you need to do to be successful, but also demonstrate that you are critically thinking about how these digital tools will align with course goals and improve student learning. My best practices document shows that I have taken the time to reflect on my own use of technology in the classroom and how I will better utilize these digital tools in the future. In order to create this, I used the best practices that were described by the presenters, and then reflected on my own discipline’s needs, my technological skills, and my past experience teaching an online course.

Reflection:

Technology and digital tools are no longer a ‘new’ thing to higher education classrooms. Students and teachers interact through learning management systems like Desire 2 Learn, communication is primarily through email, and handing in papers has turned into submitting PDFs and digital documents into prepared dropboxes. With this new landscape of digital interaction, and the increasing demand for online courses, new instructors need to have the skills to be able to use these tools for their own benefit and for their students’ benefit.

This workshop helped me reflect on my own use of technology in the classroom, and how I can improve my use of digital tools in teaching for future courses. While I have always been a proponent of using technology in the classroom, I wasn’t always thinking about how the technology would align with my course goals, nor did I have a good understanding of the range of digital teaching tools that were available for me. This workshop helped me to think about my online teaching more critically, and also find ways to search out new teaching technologies.

I plan to use the best practices I developed to continue to think critically about my use of digital tools in the classroom, and I intend for this to be a living document that changes with new technology and new courses. I need to set aside time to determine whether the tools I am using are effective, whether they are accomplishing what I thought they would, whether the students feel this helps with their learning, and how I could improve my use of that tool in my classroom.

This process of reflecting on digital tool use has already helped to improve my teaching. While teaching ANP 203 during Summer 2014, as an online course, I noticed that students had a much easier time navigating the website for the course (WordPress) than they did navigating the learning management system (D2L). The website had the weekly readings set up like a syllabus, but with links available, whereas D2L was organized into weekly folders with little organization. When I taught the Spring 2015 standard version of this course, I changed the D2L site to reflect the setup of the syllabus and provided clearer text along with the links. Another issue I noticed was that students had difficulty in using new technology during ANP 203 Summer 2014. However, when I shared links to YouTube videos demonstrating the technology, they quickly were able to solve their own problems. For ANP 203 Spring 2015, I provided students with a help section so that they could see videos of how to use the new technology.

During this Spring 2015 semester, teaching ANP 203, I’ve integrated a number of new digital tools into my classroom, including Popplet, Storify, Twitter and YouTube. As students have had to use these, I have reflected on how successful it was, whether using these tools improved student grades, and whether these tools supported the learning goals I had set for them. I also had students complete a survey of technology skills and digital tool use so that I could customize the course to their skill levels- this was extremely helpful in determining what tools to use and which to ignore. This process of carefully reflecting on best practices, gaging student ability and learning, and questioning tool use has proven to be very helpful in creating a better classroom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s