Teaching with Technology: What works

The use of technology in learning is no longer a fad, it is the norm.
According to the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the term “technology” refers to advancements in the methods and tools we use to solve problems or achieve a goal.

CTL further states “In the classroom, technology can encompass all kinds of tools from low-tech pencil, paper, and chalkboard, to the use of presentation software, or high-tech tablets, online collaboration and conferencing tools, and more.”

Let’s dissect which technologies to use and for what learning situations.

Here are some ways that technology can help enhance the learning experience:

1. Online collaboration tools such as Google apps allow learners and teachers to work together online.

2. Presentation software. Powerpoint is an example of a presentation software that allows teachers to share presentations to learners.

3. Tablets can be linked to computers, projectors and the cloud so that students and instructors can communicate.

4. Course management tools allow instructors to organize all the resources students need for a class.

5. Clickers and smartphones. Live and quick polling is an example of an activity that can be done during a learning session that uses smartphones.

6. Lecture-capture tools allow teachers to record lectures directly from their computer and allow learners to watch at their own pace.

7. Social Media. Majority of learners use some form of social media. This can be used to communicate with a group of learners. Twitter, for example, can allow learners to respond to classroom discussions without having to deal with the fear of speaking in front of an audience.

It also allow discussions to continue post the classroom session. Using a specific hashtag will make it easy to keep track of the discussions on a certain topic.

8. Simulations that can provide digital experiential learning opportunities help to bridge the gap between the theory and the real thing. Simulations offer a chance for real experience allow them to learn in a comfortable, familiar and relevant environment.

9. LMS. Modern LMS’s contain learning analytics that help educators get the most from the tool, and bring a new level of engagement into the classroom. An LMS is more than just a storage of courses, it is a source of real time research about courses and the learners.

10. SMART boards are used for projecting presentation slides and Internet sites to serving as an interactive surface that gets learners working together.

11. ELMOs are projectors that don’t need laptops. Simply project on to a blank wall and it can project anything under its lens.

According to Patti Constantakis in the study Integrating Digital Tools for Adult Learners: Four Critical Factors, there are four factors that contribute to effective implementation of technology. These are:

1. Ability to support multiple implementation models

The first question to ask when designing learning with the use of technology is “does the new technology product or tool supports the learning needs?” Next comes the question “what is the best implementation model for certain adult learners?” What this means is that the designer has to decide is how extensive and significant will technology be a part of the learning experience?

2. Use of data

The data that is collected with the use of technology can be used to understand how to target and personalize instruction, and determine which works and which doesn’t.

3. Ability to support a rich technology infrastructure

Having a rich technology infrastructure such as having stable, strong Internet connection, applicable hardware and the like helps in making sure that the technology used is effective in achieving its learning objectives.

4. Ability to support the evolving role of the instructor

With the advent of technology, the teacher-centered learning environment is not shifting to learner-centered learning wherein the teacher guides, directs and designs personalized learning for the learner.

So what is the future of the use of technology in learning?

The possibilities are endless. You have virtual and augmented reality coming into play nowadays. No matter what the technology you choose to use, what is important to understand is that thoughtful application of the right tools should not be feared, instead it should be seen as an opportunity to create lasting and meaningful learning experiences.

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