Teaching with Technology Is Not Just for Online Classes

A photo of an open book with eyeglasses laying on top and an iPhone next to it.

Whether you like it or not – you teach with technology. In higher education, you are bound to use technology in some shape or form each semester, regardless of your course delivery method: face-to-face, online, or hybrid/blended. To be a great higher education instructor, you will need to be a great digital instructor. Think about technology in relation to teaching and learning as a way to communicate ideas, make meaning, and engage learning beyond the “classroom” space.

There are many ways to infuse educational technology into your instruction. Always remember though that your course content, learning outcomes, and overall approach to learning comes first. Effective use of technology and teaching comes with great pedagogical considerations and planning.

The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

In thinking about applying technological-based learning components to your course, it is important to apply general principles of good practice for teaching. Adapted from “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” by Chickering and Gamson (1987), these principles detail how you might utilize technology to enhance course instruction. (Note: While these are specifically written for undergraduate education, many of these principles also apply to graduate courses):

1. Encourage contact between the teacher and learner.

Employ various communication mechanisms such as discussion boards, microblogging, text, and video/web conference, in addition to traditional methods.

Decide how you want to be found online and develop your digital presence – encourage your learners to do the same. Modeling helps mentor your students to use social platforms for learning.

2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students.

Get students working with one another on substantive tasks, both in and outside of class – think about ways they can do group work digitally.

Encourage collaborative learning and assign collaborative learning activities such as group work, team presentations, debate, and discussion online.

3. Encourage active learning.

Have students share updates, posts, tweets, images, or videos about what they are learning in your course.

Consider using problems, questions, or online polls to motivate your learners for sustained inquiry beyond your classroom meetings or online modules.

Make courses assignments student-centered rather than merely text-and lecture-centered – consider ways your learners can use online mediums to facilitate learning the subject material.

Foster and encourage collaborative learning and hands-on learning such as virtual labs, practical application, and video presentations.

4. Give prompt feedback.

Knowing what they know and don’t know helps students focus learning – create a strategy for supporting in-class and online feedback.

Use online learning networks to provide opportunities for assessing existing knowledge and competence.

Provide your learners with frequent opportunities to perform and receive feedback – consider peer reviews, group led blogs, or collaborative wiki projects.

Provide opportunities for learners to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how they might assess themselves – post artifacts and allow discussion, voice recorded comments, or online journaling.

5. Emphasize time on task.

Set deadlines for assignments and tasks – provide expectations for length of time to spend with the technological-based requirement.

Set several deadlines for larger assignments. Break up components of the process, e.g. peer review blogging might have a draft, editing, and final post stage.

6. Communicate high expectations.

Make standards and grading criteria explicit for technological components.

Set high yet realistic expectations for technology-based learning for your students.

7. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.

Multiple intelligences, cooperative learning, and problem-based learning strategies can easily utilize collaborative, social software programs.

With the principles in mind, you can get more specific about how you intend to utilize technology to enhance teaching [Resources for Selecting Teaching Technologies] and learning [Selecting Technology for Learning: The 5 Cs] in your course. Okoji, Olinzock, and Okoji-Boulder (2006) encourage technology integration for teaching and learning to match learning outcomes. Strategies for effective pedagogical planning include:

  • Identifying technology-based learning objects to match student needs.
  • Selecting technological methods relevant to learning styles, modes, and pace of learning.
  • Evaluating technology for learning based on methods of instruction.
  • Designing follow-up activities that are accessible and easy to use.
  • Developing course enrichment materials that broaden learners’ problem-solving skills.
  • Locating additional instructional resources to broaden learners’ knowledge and skills.
  • Designing a dynamic learning environment that encourages learners to discover knowledge for themselves.

Consider how you want your learners to interact with course content and one another. Begin your planning by asking yourself the following:

  • What ways can you enhance the course curriculum with technology?
  • Are there potential learning materials that would improve learners’ understanding?
  • How will you provide relevant learning experiences throughout the semester?
  • Can you think of online media or external resources that augment your current learning material?
  • What strategies have you seen implemented in your discipline for similar courses, topics, and areas of study?

Further Reading

References

Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research. (2016). Teaching Resources for Engaged Educators [online training modules]. Denton, TX: University of North Texas.

Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3-7.

Okojie, M. C., Olinzock, A. A., & Okojie-Boulder, T. C. (2006). The pedagogy of technology integration. Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JOTS/v32/v32n2/okojie.html