Monday, October 3, 2011

The Technological Tool Box and Building Student Skill and Knowledge

One of my favorite analogies that came out of our discussion today was that of the technological tool kit that is available to us as instructors. Instead of having a hammer and a few nails we now have the equivalent of table saws and power sanders. Power point, clickers, blogs, social media, and even cell phones can be useful tools in the class room. So, just how do we go about using these tools when, unlike those you buy at home depot, technology doesn't always come with explicit user guides and helpful hints?

These were some great questions that came out of our technological took kit discussion:

1. Do we need to teach instructors how to use these tools, or should we just make them available and let each instructor find what is right for them? Teaching about the technology in classrooms may be valuable for instructors that have never used it before. Conversely, do we want to hamper personal style by telling instructors to use tools in a certain way?

2. What are we trying to 'build' in our classes a car or a house; which tools are appropriate? Do we really need all of the fancy tools? Would they add to the classroom experience or detract from the learning happening? Each class is different and has different goals. Use of technology should be evaluated in the context of the class to be sure it is appropriate.

3. Can technology help students with different learning styles? Does making multiple resourse increase the different ways a student can learn the material? Is it good to offer so many different ways of learning?

4. Can it increase or decrease a student's comfort with the class? Students come from different backgrounds. Some are more comfortable participating in public forums than interacting with the professor; thus, having chats or blogs increases participation. Others haven't had as much access to technology and may not be comfortable with its use. How do we work with both student types?

4. Does increasing technology potentially overburden our students? Is it possible to provide too many resources outside of class? Does having blogs, online videos, pod-casts, reading, etc. overwhelm our students and detract from their focus?

It was great to generate all of these questions. If you were not able to make the meeting, please comment and add to the discussion!

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