Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching with Technology

Using technology to teach students has become a reality of life, and in library land it seems that using technology and social networking sites continues to be trendy.  In an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Julie Meloni offers instructors at the college level some potentially useful forms of technology that might be helpful.  She warns readers to be careful, though, because the newest technology should not be adopted just to jump on a bandwagon: "Whatever the level of technology, and regardless of our comfort level with it, remember that for all that educational technology can offer us through new communication methods and the ability to reach a wider range of students, it is no panacea.  An instructor must still deliver relevant material, enable students to achieve the goals of the course, and assess their work."

After the disclaimer, she expresses the idea that communication often figures as one of the main problems in a course.  Technology can can bridge the communication gap between students and instructors.  Four technologies can be useful in this regard:
  1. Discussion boards
  2. Blogs
  3. Social-networking sites
  4. E-mail and e-mail lists
As communication tools, they work.  A few years ago, I did see an information-literacy course that incorporated blogs into the assignments, and the students seemed to take off thrive in this medium as a way to write about their searching experiences for sources.  They discussed the sources they found and why they would or would not use the sources.  It seemed like a great idea.  Meloni declares that "individual blogs are my favorite," saying that she will recapitulate class discussions and highlight main points on her blog, and students will ask follow-up questions there. 

Many within academia may tout the usefulness of learning management software programs like Blackboard and Moodle, but Meloni argues that "individual instructors often find these platforms too cumbersome."  The free, cloud-based technologies seem to function better.

Meloni also talked a little about the usefulness of Zotero and Mendeley, as well as the importance of collaboration with students, experts on campus, and instructors at other institutions.  Making course materials freely available online certainly opens up the gates for collaboration with individuals at other institutions.  Sharing a syllabus, for example, elicited invitation sent to her to collaborate on conference panels and even publications.

It is a good article.  Take a look at it:

Meloni, Julie.  "Technologies for Teaching: Strategies and Pitfalls."  Chronicle of Higher Education 57.11 (2010): B22-B24.  Academic Search Complete.  EBSCO.  Web. 27 Sept. 2011.

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