Technology Is for Closers

So many options.

March 13, 2014

I give lots of presentations about effective technology use and teaching. One of the first things that I share with people is that they only want to use technology if they think it will add to the class curriculum in terms of the delivery or of student learning outcomes. You do not really want to use technology just for the sake of using it. You also want familiarity with the technology prior to the term that you use it. Students expect that you have intermediate familiarity to expertise with the technology. The use of technology in the classroom across departments and disciplines might vary; however, one thing remains consistent: the instructor needs to know how to use the technology and have good back end support. Instructors should get to know the team of people (if any) who will support them for platform queries. This is the major reason why it is important to use platforms that your campus supports.

There are numerous types of technology that you can use in the classroom and many of us use Learning Management Systems (LMS) to track and manage our classes. An effective LMS can enhance communication and make the student learning experience better. However, the LMS use in a classroom for a class that meets in a traditional classroom is really a minimal use of technology in 2014. But it is important that the LMS works well for the instructor and the students. Some use the LMS for delivery of the course content in a blended, multi-access or online learning environment.

The LMS is the tip of the iceberg, and there are other platforms to use in the classroom. I have recently used the Blue Jeans Network, Vidyo, and Vidoyen , and I am thinking about what is next with my own course delivery. I use our enterprise WordPress environment (the Online Academic Community) and one of our university LMS--CourseSpaces, in my own courses, and have my students building applications (apps), blogging, vlogging, and more. I am always on the look out for education technology tools and ways to enhance my teaching and student learning.

What remains interesting for me is to manage the why. Why am I using  a platform? This is an important question to ask as you examine different platforms, and the best place to go for more information is your college's learning center, and chat with the information technology or systems colleagues at your campus. You might be the innovator on your campus, but if you are not, seek the innovator community out to network with and learn from so that you have a learning community. This learning community can also provide you with expert user experience--go to brown bags, chat with your campus research librarians, and build a bridge out of your discipline silo. (Here, I assuming there is one; if there is not, you are in a good place).   

It is crucial to learn from one another and that we stay abreast of learning platforms and other social media tools. Which online learning or ed tech tools are you using? Then, think about two things: what do you want to do next and why? It is better to not use technology and focus on teaching well, then to try to do too much and lose your students thanks to different technology failures.

Some good hashtags to follow on Twitter: #edtech #proftwitter #pse


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