Friday, January 13, 2012

The 5 Rights of Technology (Part 2 of 2)

Check out the first part of this blog here.

3.  The Right Time
Significant time is also needed with implementing a particular technology into the class.  Besides doing research, you will also need time to develop the right support materials (see the next Right) and also spend time within the class explaining and illustrating the tool.  With certain everyday technology, faculty sometimes assume that students “know” technology, but that’s not always the case.  We assume that anyone under the age of 30 knows what to do with these technologies but there not often any guarantee of that.  Many of them know the technologies they need for their lives but that doesn't mean they easily intuit all technologies equally.  Technology, alas, is just too broad.

It’s also useful to spend time in class going over the technology because even if students are familiar with the technology, you’re goal is to illustrate how it’s being used in your class.  For instance, some people use Twitter for banter with friends or to follow their favorite celebrity, but you might need to explain how Twitter can be used for academic purposes.  So you’ll need to set aside time for prep and research but also within the class to walk students through it.  And it’s probably a good idea to reserve time to meet with students who may have difficulty with the process.

4.  The Right Support
Be sure to provide students with good resources from walk-throughs to videos that they can access on their own and hold onto when class is not in session.  That certainly won’t guarantee mistakes and challenges, but if you provide detailed support materials, the students have something to make use of when you are not there.  Furthermore, in creating these materials, it will help you clarify in your own head what needs to be done.

Another level of support is being patient and responsive to students that are struggling with the technology.  Be prepared to work with students that are challenged by the technology.  That being said, you should also be aware of those who are competent in the technology and look to utilize them in helping other students. Within the classroom itself, it’s probably also useful at times to poll your students about how they are finding the particular technology being employed.  This provides opportunities for students to reflect about the ways it is (or isn’t) useful.

The final support to always consider is contacting and talking with us in Academic Technology.  We are always happy to brainstorm, discuss, and share what we know, what we’ve researched, and of course what we’ve tried.  And don't hesitate to email us either!

5.  The Right Technology
The previous rights should culminate in a well-chosen technology for your course with an experience that reinforces it.  However, that certainly doesn’t guarantee that it will.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, the technology still doesn’t work to the degree that you imagined.  Other times, the technology fails because it ceases existing.  This is particularly the case with Web 2.0 tools.  Certainly, there are great tools out there on the Internet, but there isn’t a guarantee that the service or tool that you’re using will still be there throughout the semester.  Again, in that research phase, this would be something to explore and consider.

But if things don’t go as planned, that’s not a cry to abandon hope, but to reflect and consider what specific problems did you hit that complicated your outcome.  This is were talking with your students and soliciting feedback could be rather useful.

All of this boils down to the fact that you should consider and work with the technology before using it.  That’s not to dissuade faculty from doing so but to help them be aware what they need to do.  Launching a technology in class because you think it’s interesting is on par with the student who does his or her research paper based upon the first 10 hits from Google.  Both represent effort, but not necessarily the sought-after results.
  • What other concerns do you have when implementing a new technology?

  • What successes have you had with implementing technology?

  • What missteps have you had with implementing technology?

  • What have you found to be students’ concerns about the technology that you have (or haven’t) used?