Meaningful Integration of Technology

out of place

Have you ever felt like you are the lone yellow person in a sea of blue?  If so, you aren’t alone.  I often feel out of place or as if I don’t quite belong here at CAPE.  And, while this may seem like a bad thing, it really isn’t.  Let me explain.

All of the other specialists here are great at what they do, and to do their jobs well, they all rely very heavily on technology.  When we meet to talk budgets and workshops, a common theme is technology.  While I often look for new technology tools and devices that will make my life easier, I’m not always all about the tech.  It often frustrates me, and I usually prefer a low-tech or tech-free method as my go-to option.  Even now I’m drafting this post on an old-fashioned legal pad using a very low tech light green pen.  I will eventually type it in the new-fangled Microsoft Word, but utilizing my computer first stifles my creativity.

Alex stated in her blog yesterday that technology “has become an integral part of our lives and incorporating it into the learning process can be beneficial to both the instructor and the student.  I wholeheartedly agree.  For example, I love the idea of using technology to communicate with students, using social media to learn by messaging, or using a tablet to break free from the front of the class like our mathematics and science departments have.  However, as the lone instruction specialist in a sea of techies, I have to insert a word or two of caution.

First, technology should be integrated into the curriculum in a meaningful way.  Make sure that you have a reason for utilizing the technology that you’ve chosen.  Too often, we incorporate tech just because it’s the cool new thing.  Ask yourself – what benefit does using this technology provide my students?  How does it (will it) help them learn?  Even though I would love to use QR codes, Twitter, Google Hangouts, and Instagram in my classes, I haven’t incorporated them because I have no real purpose for using them.

The next idea stems from this same concept, but it’s more from the student side.  Students want to feel connected in the classroom, but they may not want to “be connected” all of the time.  Sometimes it’s ok to take the tech out of the classroom.

And finally, there’s always the issue of time and the learning curve.  To effectively integrate technology, one must learn how the technology works and how to teach that use to students without sacrificing valuable class time.  This may be why we know about high-tech methods, but few of us actually use them.

Alex ends her post with an opportunity for readers to comment on something “you’d like to learn to do using technology in the classroom.”  When we’ve done surveys previously asking what types of workshops or trainings people would like or need, the list has usually been how to use (insert computer program name here).  As you are commenting on Alex’s post, I encourage you to think not only about how to operate a tech device or program but also how to effectively integrate it into your course with meaning.  I also encourage your comments regarding any instructional strategies you’d like to try (it will give me an opportunity to contribute in our meetings when we discuss future workshop needs).

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