Blogs & Beyond: Teaching with Technology and Curiosity
The rapid proliferation of digital tools and media is encouraging many of us to rethink our course development and classroom strategies. The adoption of these exciting new tools, however, is not simply a matter of grafting digital elements onto the traditional classroom methods. Instead it uncovers and unsettles many of the basic pedagogical assumptions that have long driven our teaching.
Many of the technologies have allowed us to have different kinds of conversations with students, incorporate richer and multilayered sources of materials in the classroom and in assignments, accommodate various learning styles and paces, and enable sustained collaborative learning among our students. These technologies have fundamentally changed the classroom environment and course development, both for campus-based classes as well as distance learning.
But, these technologies have also created some new challenges as instructors and students. To name just a few:
- students' widely varying technological capacities and experiences
- the distractions of laptops in the classroom - they can impact classroom conversation as well as distract others nearby
- ensuring technology is not implemented just for the sake of it, but is adding something to the class
And, of course, the simple fact of trying to keep up-to-date with the wealth of potential approaches, tools, and media afforded by this explosion of digital technologies!
By focusing on practical challenges, solutions, failures, and future plans, we hope this forum will generate a productive conversation that will inform our pedagogy by making our engagement with teaching technologies more effective both for teachers and for our students.
We also want to consider "technology" more broadly defined. Along with new tools like Twitter, wikis, course sites, in-class tablets, GIS mapping, Digital Humanities projects, textual analysis, and mobile phones, we want to consider what can be done with non-digital, traditional technologies and how novel interactions among the analog and digital can arise. We hope you will consider the following questions and responses as a jumping off point for this conversation.
1. What challenges and/or failures have you faced while teaching with digital technology? How have you dealt with these issues and what did you learn?
2. How have you utilized technology to encourage critical thinking about difference - such as the Digital Divide/class/race/gender/sexual orientation. How have students responded? Has it been useful? Have you been wary of using technology for this purpose because of any specific concerns or questions?
3. How have your experiences with technology changed your pedagogical methods, expectations, or results? That is, how do we avoid this: "digital facelift" - merely taking what you do & doing it online (ex. online courses in Blackboard)"? (via @academicdave on Twitter, from this talk)
4. What degree of technological experience is necessary for instructors to be able to discover, evaluate, and effectively use the plethora of digital tools & projects available?
5. How have these technologies impacted your own labor as an instructor? Do you need to spend additional time teaching students to use these tools, and does that feel useful or is it an additional burden? Do you think teaching certain technological 'literacies' is an essential or ancillary aspect of your curriculum development?
6. How can we use teaching technologies to make learning bidirectional? What have we to learn from our students? What have you learned from your students?
*We especially welcome links to your course websites, blogs, wikis, or syllabi. If they're not online, feel free to post excerpts below, or post it as a blog and include the link here! We have also created a Zotero group for saving and organizing these links, which can be joined here.