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Using Technology to Improve Student Learning

Research indicates that technology can be used to improve teaching and learning if it is used in a way consistent with the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.  According to these principles good practice should encourage student and faculty contact, develop cooperation among students, use active learning techniques, ensure prompt feedback to students, emphasize time on task, communicate high expectations and respect diverse talents and ways of learning.  These principles were first published in 1987. Since then many technological advancement beneficial to educators have evolved.  Among the recent include;   

Wikipedia – Students need to see the value of their work to raise their expectations. Wikipedia can be used to motivate students to well write if they know their efforts would not just be for a grade but could contribute to knowledge creation on Wikipedia. Students will also have the added advantage of receiving feedback from experts in the field besides their instructor, thus extending their learning beyond their institution. 

Blogging – This tool is one that is very familiar with educators and students. Adding a blog to your learning activities can encourage interaction and cooperation among the students and with the instructor.  Students can post their individual or group work for feedback from their colleagues before submitting the work for a final grade. Remember that students learn from each other as well as from their instructor.  Some blogs are public and may encourage students to be mindful of the quality of their work.

VoiceThread – This web tool allows students to collaboratively engage in online discussions which are not only in the form of text. Students and instructors can upload their PowerPoint slides, video, photos and other documents. Students can then move from slide to slides and add their audio-recorded, written or video-recorded comment. The resulting multimedia presentation can then be shared with other groups or the instructor for review thus allowing for active learning.

Delicious is by far the most popular social booking tool. Many teaching and learning activities involve students searching the web for information. Most students end up bookmarking their searches on their individual computers. Some will even print them out.  However these search results cannot be accessed from another computer nor shared with others.  A better approach may be to use a Social Bookmarking tool to encourage collaboration and sharing of resources among students and instructor. These searches can be grouped, tagged and made accessible to all students. This can also save time for other learning activities.

Screencast-O-Matic  – Screencast is digital recording of a computer screen output. On many occasions I have used the techniques to demonstrate the use of software that involved multiple steps.  I just make a screencast and post it on a website.  This strategy saved class time because there was no need to repeat the steps again in class. Students could also review all the steps involved at anytime and as many times as possible. Screencast can be used to explain any complex learning activity to students. It also allows students to proceed through the learning activity at their own pace for a deeper understanding, allowing for different learning styles. Please spend some time to review Screencast-O-Matic  and explore how this may have application for your class.

I hope you will find some time to review and try out some of these “exciting” and innovative technologies. See if you can come up with other creative uses that have not been listed in this message and please do share these experiences with us. Also if you have used any other technology besides those listed here, please be generous and share this knowledge with all of us. We will be glad to learn from you and your ideas will definitely be useful to other faculty members.  

Looking forward to hearing from you. Join the conversation.

Comments

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