Educators: how often do you use "instructional technology"?

There’s an email debate going on where I work about the role of Instructional Technology (InTech). Some profs are claiming that our classes need to become more high tech in terms of web assignments and Power Point projects and the like because “that’s the trend in education and the workplace” and others claiming that we’re coming to use technology “for technology’s sake alone”. I see both sides.

A large part of the argument has to do with the desire to see our computers upgraded and more online classes offered. Personally I detest the role of online classes and see them as a necessary evil: I understand their purpose, they’re great when there’s a scheduling conflict or other reason you can’t really have face-to-face instruction, but I just don’t think that they now or ever will be on par with actual classrooms. (Again: I understand that sometimes you have no choice, but I think few would argue that the quality of instruction is or can be on par with a good classroom instructor.) I also happen to think that much of the justification of online classes is strictly motivated by making money.

OTOH, there are some professors who won’t learn how to use Power Point or a Smart Board (which, if you’ve never used it, those things are freaking awesome). I’m not saying you should have to use one, or even that some people aren’t over-reliant on them (and don’t even get me started on the professors who show videos [however relevant] seemingly every other lecture).

I do think though that used properly they do what good InTech does, which is enhances and perhaps facilitates instruction. (I’m a firm believer in visual aides and PPT particularly is great for that, as is the occasional relevant web page or YouTube video. I also think that web based syllabi and tutorials are good ideas, and emailed assignments have the great benefit of proving when/if they were sent/received (though I’ve known of some nightmares with one party or the other’s email stripping the assignment or some other mix-up).

Anyway, how often do you use InTech in your lectures? When you do is it usually PPT/videos/the Web or… what? Do you think it’s overused? How much do you use the web during a class? Have you ever taught an online class and if so how did you like/not like it and how did you create some sort of feeling that “this is a class”?

Anyway, sorry for a discombobulated OP, but the point is talk about your uses and or opinions of InTech and don’t worry whether it’s relevant. :cool:

I teach in a graduate school of education. I can’t imagine doing a lecture without PowerPoint. In fact, the students request that I upload the slideshow so they can follow along on their own computers, or with a printout. Student presentations always include PowerPoint as well.

I use video clips, sometimes ripped from my own collection (when I discuss Black colleges in my history class, I show part of the PBS documentary “The Morehouse Men”). But the PBS website has great clips from a lot of their documentaries as well, so it might be off the web. YouTube has an incredible amount of material which I occasionally use.

I use Blackboard for asynchronous discussion - I’ll post some thought questions about the week’s readings, and the students are supposed to respond to one or contribute an original thought in a threaded discussion by 8 am the morning of class. That works pretty well, and for those who are less fond of speaking up in class, it’s a way for them to shine - I will refer to Sally’s comment (if it was good) to get Sally to say more about what she wrote. I also post readings, slides, and a reading list on Blackboard as well.

We have a distance learning classroom, but I’ve never used it. A colleague had a student ask him to teach his course in the room so he could watch it online instead of coming to class. Granted, he has a pretty long commute, but it’s a once-weekly class. The class has a lot of discussion and small group activities, which don’t work quite as well when people see the red light of the video camera recording their comments.

We’re using more IT because so many of our students work full-time and need the accommodations. Which I guess is fine, but it makes me appreciate how my grad program admitted full time students only. Sometimes you can’t tell if it’s genuinely an accommodation that can’t be addressed in any other way, or if the students are taking advantage of the situation.

PowerPoint, videos, podcasts, web research assignments, posting students’ work (they know this in advance). Students routinely prepare PowerPoints. We consider it a job skill.

I don’t think any student should be allowed out of college until they’ve mastered (at least the basics of) Power Point, Excel, and Word. Even if they never use it (which is unlikely) at least they’ll know how.

Not only do I use PowerPoint, I use TurningPoint for longer sessions (more than, say, 2 hours, even with breaks). It’s awesome. It’s the PP that lets you give the audience signal buttons so they can ring in, either to answer questions (like a quiz show) or to register their opinion (like a survey). The interactive element really keeps the audience engaged. My favorite TP format is to come up with hypotheticals on legal issues, ask the audience to “rule” like a judge, show how many voted each way, then explain which answer is correct and why, and why the other option is incorrect and why. It consistently gets very high marks for presentation, and I think that has more to do with the technology and format than with my teaching or even the content.

I use PP for even 45 minute sessions, along with handouts and lecture: Show them, tell them, show them again. And I use Blackboard for collaborative committee work.

Never taught an online class, but the one I took as a student I felt was pretty worthless.

When they ring in, does it lock out the other students/ringers?

Depends on if you’re using it in survey mode or quiz mode. No lock out for the former; lock out for the latter. But there’s not way to tell who answered correctly if you’ve given signal buttons to an entire audience, so I gather that for quiz mode most people just use two or three buttons, divide the class into teams, and have each team just use one button. I say “I gather” because I don’t use it that way, I use it in survey mode, which is easier for a larger audience and IMO more appropriate for an older one.

Over the last year I’ve converted all my lectures to PowerPoint and have not looked back at the old days of writing feverishly on the blackboard (well, it was sometimes a white board). Also, I’ve used the web and the school’s iLearn system to provide lecture outlines, problem solutions, extra reading, cases, and other supplementary materials. I love the fact that I no longer have to arrange for handouts to be duplicated for distribution. There are still iLearn functions that I haven’t tried yet, but intent to.

I do art history, so I do use Powerpoint (not really a choice for us-- the visual thing is the way of life, and it’s either that or old slides. Thank God the days of constantly burned-out bulbs i over). I also put each lecture’s PPT up on Blackboard/WebCT/Moodle/whatever thing the school subscribes to that week, as well as syllabi and copies of handouts and links to paper-writing help and such.

With distance ed. . . I don’t know, honestly, how much I trust the average 19 year old to spend enough time taking in the material independently I know I wouldn’t have been good at it. I could see putting out lectures as podcasts, though.

(I’m also tired of students asking me for my notes, or to put up the PPT with the lecture notes attached-- I’m not sure WHY it bothers me… . do I want to punish them for not taking their own notes/not showing up? Is it an ego thing on my part? If they get the information and learn it. . . why does it bug me? )

Apparently, the word for this phenomenon is “e-learning” . Googling that word may yield some more info and discussion.

I’ve been teaching almost exclusively “distance learning” (online) courses for the past few years, which frees me up to travel and to teach at 3 AM in my pajamas if I choose, and better than that brain-bleaching image (I usually don’t wear the pajamas), from my pov, is the fact that instructions are unambiguous: when I write something is due on Tuesday at noon, then all whining about “B-b-but you said THURSDAY, Professor” stops, and when the syllabus is posted on Blackboard then “I never got a copy” stops, and all excuses about why they were late or absent stops, too, since the course can now be accessed 24-7. So there’s much more learning (and much less whining) being done. I hope I’ll never teach another face-to-face course again.

It’s funny, but while I am a huge fan of technology, if you look at my classroom, I seem to be a Luddite: “technology” is the overhead projector. Before I started teaching economics, I hardly even used that–as an English teacher, I very rarely lecture–everything is discussion/small group based. Now that I also teach econ, I use the overhead more, but even there I don’t see me moving towards powerpoint: most of my lectures are really interactive–I don’t know when I start what my examples are going to be because I let the kids tell me (not that it matters if we are looking at widgets or doughnuts or sex toys) because it seems to keep them more engaged. I am new to economics and powerpoint feels like it locks me in–I am not sure what questions they are going to ask or where they are going to need clarification, and in econ you have to show things, not just say them. So I just go through dozens of transparencies a day and once a week scrub them all off.

I do make really awesome work sheets and graphic organizers in Excel. It’s really easy to randomize a quiz if you type it up in Excel, as well.

I do have a message board for class discussions for my English class, and I use technology a great deal as a communication tool: if I am grading a pile of essays and I see many people making the same mistake, I’ll pull out my phone and send a text about it to everyone in the class, or change my facebook status to 'Manda JO is irritated people can’t write specific-enough thesis statements". My kids call/text/email all the time, and having different modes of communication with them means that I reach kids with different comfort levels: kids that are way too shy to ask questions in class feel comfortable texting me later, and it helps deal with the “I didn’t understand” excuse because I can say “why didn’t you email or call?”.

I love technology. But I really don’t use it much as a teaching tool.

I’m with you on the online classes, but I do use the computer and projector in my classroom on a regular basis, mostly for showing film clips / images / sample essays or other documents. I’m going to miss it at my new school, which has no equipment in most of the classrooms other than a chalkboard, but I don’t think it’s essential. As long as I have a photocopier and I can borrow a TV and DVD player, it’s all good. (I teach English lit and composition.)

I love, love YouTube – there’s some amazing stuff on there, especially videos of Shakespeare / Greek tragedy in performance.

I’ve experimented with Blackboard’s online discussion board (didn’t like it because there’s no way for students to view an entire thread at once) and with blogging (I probably won’t do it again since the students had an unexpectedly difficult time figuring out how to post, but it did allow a disabled student who couldn’t participate in regular class discussion to get some of the seminar experience). Most of the time, I just use Blackboard to post extra copies of the syllabus and assignments.

The students keep pestering me to use Bboard’s online grade book. I’m not a big fan of the idea, although it’s hard for me to articulate why, and I may yet give in.

I detest PowerPoint, at least in the English classroom, because I think it encourages students to be too passive and reduces everything to a series of bullet points. This, too, may be an unfair prejudice on my part.