Join Karl Kapp for an in-depth discussion in this video Engaging students in class with technology, part of Core Strategies for Teaching in Higher Ed.
- Students often seem glued to their technology, whether it's smartphones, laptops, or tablets, and often, they don't hesitate to bring that technology into the classroom. You could handle this in three ways. You can ban the technology, ignore it, and hope they're not too distracted, or you can attempt to leverage that technology to enhance the learning process. Banning technology doesn't make sense. If we Ban technology, we lose the opportunity to teach the students how to use that technology productively, and banning technology makes the college classroom seem out of touch.
Ignoring technology also doesn't work. In reality, when solving problems or seeking information outside the classroom, students will be using technology. The third option, leveraging technology in the classroom, teaches students to use technology correctly, and can make our classes more interactive and engaging. So, let's own up to the reality that technology is an integral part of a student's life. I don't think we need to use technology for technology's sake, but let's use it when it makes sense.
One popular and effective type of classroom technology is a student-response system, sometimes called clickers. A student-response system is like a 21st century instant poll. You, the professor, poses a question to the entire class, then students answer the question individually, and anonymously. They use a wireless clicker device. The results can be shown to the entire class, prompting further discussion. It's even possible to use technologies that don't require students to buy the clicker hardware.
Many student-response systems allow students to use their own devices, such as a phone or tablet. These systems make your content more interactive. They can be used to Measure student understanding of a concept, a way of surveying students, or even as a method of providing a pop quiz at the beginning of a class. Additionally, there are a growing number of apps that allow for games, question and answer responses, and sharing of short sentences or phrases via a text response.
Another advantage is that assigning a consistent, specific number to each student who logs in, provides an attendance record. Another idea is to Let students use the devices they have to help them learn content. Many students have some type of device which could be used for recording small videos. You may want to consider an in-class activity, where students create a Mini-documentary, recording and describing the learning of new information. Then, at the end of class, have students show their one or two minute documentary to the entire class.
This allows them to use their devices for learning, and provides the opportunity for them to learn from each other. You can also take advantage of technology backchannels. A backchannel is an existing communication technology, like Twitter, that allows students to comment and take notes in real time during class. For example, you could create a hashtag for your class, such as #KappClass, or #History101, and then encourage students to take notes including that hashtag.
Or, you could use Google Drive to create a shared document that the entire class can edit together. Finally, you can use technology to bring in outside guest speakers via Video conferencing. The good news about all this technology is that you don't have to do it all by yourself. Many institutions have support services for faculty that will help you leverage technology. Use them. If it's used properly, technology can enhance learning, and improve interaction within your classes.
Find out what technologies are already available at your institution, and use them to engage and motivate your students.
- Respecting your students
- Conveying your passion for teaching
- Maintaining academic rigor
- Engaging students in and out of class
- Making learning active
- Staying current
- Continually improving your teaching
- Publishing your work
- Being flexible
- Connecting to the outside world
- Collaborating with peers