Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Courses

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"How to Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Courses" (post) outlines practical strategies for finding tech that  enhances your courses, content, and teaching -- and for avoiding "useless embellishment[s]."

  • "It’s for anyone who is in the process of creating a new course or redesigning an old one and needs advice on which technologies to use, how to use them, and why."

A. Summary and Section Links

B. Select Key Points

1. Key Starter Questions

  • "What is the technology for?" 
    • "Is it for a course or a set of courses? A module? A particular activity?" 
    • "Thoughtful technology choices ... [a]re wedded to a specific discipline and course, and even to specific areas within a course." 
  • "What are your learning objectives and outcomes?" 
    • "Successful tech choices are, above all, goal-focused." 
    • "[H]ave your course goals and priorities at hand as you consider your technology options."
  • "What are the hardest, or most failure-prone, aspects of what you’re teaching?"
    • "[L]ist ... the pinch points — material that students repeatedly stumble over or just find boring; concepts that you find yourself having to reteach, time and again."
    • Use technology to help with that pinch-point content, e.g. online games for learning terminology, supplemental videos embedded in D2L for likely necessary remediation, etc.

2. Some Things To Try

  • "Set up a fast-paced, low-stakes quiz game that students play in class using their own mobile devices." Try Kahoot! or Socrative
  • "Have students use their own smartphones to take a virtual-reality tour of a cultural or historic site."
  • "Ask students to tweet photos of something they see, while going about their day, that illustrates topics they’re learning about in your class." 
  • "Organize a blog for students to post accounts of their travel experiences during a study-abroad program."
  • "Ask students to make their course assignments public through YouTube or Medium."
  • "Replace a traditional textbook with courseware that presents content in a personalized way and also tests students on the material as they work their way through it."
  • "Use interactive multimedia that students can explore as an illustration of course content."
  • "Produce your own narrated videos that students can watch online on their own time."

3. Sources of Inspiration

  • "[L]ook back through scholarly articles you read and saved related to teaching."
    • "Do any of them use technology in a way that appeals to you?" 
  • "Tap your local colleagues for their expertise."
    • "If you hear faculty members enthusing about a new tool or technique they are trying, corner them."
    • "Talk with academics who are familiar faces at teaching conferences or who haunt e-learning centers." 
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