The essential information to help you become confident with the language and motivations for using technology to support learning and teaching.
One of the changes in learning and teaching over recent years has been the variety of technologies which have been adopted to support teaching and learning.
Increasingly, students expect to be able to access recordings of lectures and copies of class slides, to submit assignments digitally, to participate in online discussions and much more.
Administrative and pedagogical benefits both abound. Here are just a few:
Try not to be seduced by technology for its own sake. It is essential that you have a considered reason for using it.
What benefits are there for the students?
Increased understanding: animations, simulations and videos can all be used to demonstrate something that is hard to understand from explanations in words or on paper.
Student-centred: students can participate in online course activities when and where works best for them.
Reinforcing learning: online resources allow students to revisit or go over challenging material at their own pace and as often as they require.
Immediate feedback: computer quizzes are enjoyed by many students. They can provide immediate feedback, which can also be tailored and/or anonymous if appropriate.
There are a number of centrally supported technology tools, others supported locally in colleges, or you may wish to use something which is publically available, whether supported or not.
The challenge is finding the right technology to fit your context, need and motivation. Discussing your ideas with a learning technologist should help narrow down the most appropriate options.
There is a list of the top 100 educational technology tools recompiled annually from a worldwide survey of teachers and technologists by Jane Hart.
Reliability: although most systems are now pretty robust, no technology is ever 100% reliable. Some technologies, especially things that are very new (avoid version 1.0 of most software!) can be subject to frustrating errors. Have a backup plan if you have any concerns about reliability.
Maintenance time: all systems require maintenance from time to time, although hopefully this will be scheduled and advertised.
Pace of change: technology is a fast changing field. Software can quickly look out of date, or be replaced by later versions with enhanced functionality. You will almost certainly have to keep adapting and updating.
Initially, trying out a new technology can seem a bit daunting, so you may wish to consider an implementation that can be split into small steps. Students may react to the technology offered in unexpected ways (not necessarily bad, just unanticipated!), so again exploring in stages often facilitates adapting and evolving as everyone involved gains understanding and confidence.
JISCinfonet supports the sharing of learning technology good practice and innovation within post-compulsory education.
The Association for Learning Technology is the main UK professional association for learning technologists. It holds regular events and has an active mailing list.
Get involved with the eLearning@ed forum:
This article was published on Apr 15, 2013