Incorporating Technology in your Teaching
Certification in College Teaching Workshop
May 9th & 10th 2019
The university setting is constantly changing. A bulk of this change is due to the increased use of technology. This technology provides multiple benefits to both students and instructors such as easy access to information and ways to communicate across vast distances. However, this accessibility and ease of communication entices people to use their technology at inappropriate times, such as in the classroom during a lesson. Instructors have to be on the edge of new trends and keep students engaged in instruction rather than technological distractions.
During the 2019 Teaching Institute we discussed specific ways to incorporate technology into our lessons. One way to do this is to create activities using the technology the students are being distracted by such as social media.
Social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook provide opportunities for students to connect with like-minded peers. Technology such as video and audio recordings, document sharing (e.g. Google Docs or OneDrive), and editing software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) can provide students with interesting and exciting opportunities to engage with class materials. If used correctly and with purpose, these technologies can have lucrative learning outcomes for students.
During the Teaching Institute, I designed a classroom activity on research wherein students use Twitter posts to validate information. In this exercise I proposed that students find an article or post on Twitter and “fact check” the article. This provides a more fun way for students to engage in the information validation process by using their own social media, but also helps them learn how to conduct this process in a meaningful way. However, as instructors we cannot just use technology without a purpose. In fact, it is extremely important to have a learning objective guide the use of technology in the classroom. In the case of my example, the learning objective would be: At the end of this activity, students will be able to verify the source credibility of online information. This is an important skill in many communication courses (and university courses more broadly), so this is a large-scale learning objective. However, smaller learning objectives can also be attained using technology in the classroom.
Recently, I have been helping my department create and maintain a TikTok account. We are utilizing this platform as a way to give our students important information and to promote our department! We have a little fun too, of course. One of our most popular courses, is COM 110, Human Communication. This course focuses on both building the students' knowledge of communication theory and their public speaking ability. I created a TikTok that gives tips and tricks for public speaking. One great thing about TikTok is that videos are usually either 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 1 minute. Although time limits have been lengthened recently, most creators stick to under 1 minute. This means concepts need to be fun and succinct. The TikTok I posted in the artifacts above is shown to many different courses in our department, and it has been well received by students!
Additionally, there are several resources on campus for both students and instructors. Students can participate in organizations such as the MSU Innovation Center and various programs through the library (e.g. MSU Digital Humanities). Instructors have many teaching resources at their disposal through programs such as Technology at MSU. This program has a variety of “services to support the academic environment and instructional technology” (see tech.msu.edu/teaching).
Interpretation & Reflection
For our students, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. It is their biggest distraction and their best learning tool. Therefore, it’s our job as educators to incorporate technology in the classroom in meaningful ways.
This is even more poignant in the discipline of communication. In fact, entire sub-disciplines are dedicated to studying communication and technology. As such, it is important to me to keep up to date on this research and stay informed of new ways of engaging students. The journal Communication Teacher is one way I can find new and interesting activities and incorporate technology in the classroom. However, as indicated in this session of the Teaching Institute every lesson has to come back to the learning objectives. The use of technology should be deliberate and enhance the lesson rather than simply a means to an end.
I have been trying to incorporate a new(er) social media, TikTok into my department and my courses. These bite-sized nuggets of wisdom are generally appreciated by students and can help them learn the content. They're on TikTok anyway! Why not learn a few things along the way. I offered up an extra credit assignment for students to create a TikTok about course content. The students put out some great content! However, I think in the future, it would be a bit more poignant to have them make it for course points. One way to do this is to have students sign up for a particular lesson's material and make a TikTok on that content. Then we can watch it in class and discuss! It would be a fun way to liven up the classroom each week by starting with their peer's content. (I also recognize not everyone wants the TikTok app on their devices, so any 1-minute or less video will be great).
The resources presented in this session were also helpful. I am teaching courses such as Group and Leadership Communication. Technology at MSU is an extremely helpful resource for me when crafting assignments and activities for the course. More importantly, the Innovation Center is invaluable for students interested in pursuing future business projects. I have recommended this organization to many of my students after they proposed their final projects for my courses.
In short, this session of the Teaching Institute showed us how to effectively use technology in the classroom to help our students learn. The Incorporating Technology in the Classroom portion of the Teaching Institute represents the core competency by illustrating the utility in using technology in the classroom specifically when a learning objective has been identified. The resources presented in this session provide invaluable tools to achieving success with technology in the classroom.