- prefer digital texts and materials to traditional textbooks,
- desire more interactive and media rich elements in their learning,
- see opportunities for more regular communication with their professors through technology,
- would like more opportunities to personalize their learning,
- and increasingly prefer digital courses to the traditional classroom.
The good news is that technology can enhance teaching and learning in a number of ways. In my opinion, a professor’s goals, values, and their understanding of students’ needs should drive the specific strategies, tools and resources selected. Here are five different reasons and approaches a faculty member might enhance teaching and learning with technology.
How technology can enhance student learning
- Amplify existing practice
Integrating technology in the classroom doesn't have to radically alter your instructional approach. There are many ways that technology tools and resources can augment or enhance your current approach. We can tap into students' positive perceptions of technology in learning by integrating more digital media in our lectures, offer digital options for required texts, and offer additional ways that you can communicate with your students.
- Provide a more flexible delivery model
In the VitalSource survey, 56% of respondents reported that they would feel more comfortable participating in a class digitally than in person. While some might scoff at this idea as simple laziness, I think there's more to it than that. The reality is that we've become an "on demand" society that highly values the kind of flexible, anytime/anywhere experience that many online courses afford. This doesn't mean that the rigor or content of the courses should be diluted in any way. Rather, if there are ways to provide students with a more flexible delivery model, their learning will integrate more seamlessly with their world.
- Provide diverse learners with more choice
In addition to choice of when and where students learn, the diverse learners in our classes also benefit from more choice in their learning experience. Specifically, Universal Design for Learning suggests that we provide students with choice in terms of interacting with course content, options for demonstrating their knowledge and skill, and means to engage them in the learning process more fully. In many cases, systematically providing options over the course of a semester is not too taxing and can lead to more engaged students in your courses.
- Help students build their skills
One reason to consider exploring new ways to integrate technology in your courses is to help them build skills that they can leverage in their own learning and to contribute to the world beyond the university. One robust framework for these skills is the 21st Century Learning Design approach. This framework is comprised of the kinds of skills you probably already value: knowledge construction, skilled communication, real-world problem solving and innovation, collaboration, and self-regulation. These don't have to be technology-driven, but they can often be enhanced through the use of technology.
- Go deeper into the content and application
In my opinion, the best reason to integrate technology in your teaching is when it enables students to go deeper into the content and/or apply the course content and skills in authentic ways. In many ways, technology enables richer inquiry experiences and simulations, grounds learning in authentic cases or problems, and can enhance fieldwork or service projects. When these potential benefits are derived from the use of technology, it is worth the extra time and risk that is required.
What other reasons or approaches do you consider when integrating technology in your courses?
Please post your comments below.