Perhaps the biggest challenge to using technology in the classroom is the time it takes to prepare materials, test their functionality and ensure their availability. Many faculty experienced in using technology in the classroom (online or traditional) suggest that creating the materials in advance actually provides them more time to concentrate on concepts rather than presentation. In other words, teaching with technology forces us to look at our allocations of time differently.
Research is beginning to emerge that suggests that the longer faculty teach with technology, particularly in the online environment, the discrepancy narrows between time spent in preparation for online--compared with on-ground--course preparation (Hill, 2010). But for those starting out, here are a few ideas about using technology to enhance and improve instruction.
- Plan ahead. Create materials in time for students to access them before class and use class time to go over the concepts. This strategy requires students to come to class prepared to discuss the materials and should be listed as a performance expectation.
- If you prefer to present content in class, post the materials after class for student review and reflection. This may cut down on the number of emails or calls asking for a review of information.
- Post a discussion forum that encourages students to ask their questions for the class rather than emailing them to the instructor. This allows the instructor to answer each question once rather than in a number of separate emails. Additionally, other students may be able to address the issue appropriately. This type of discussion board needs to be monitored carefully to ensure that students are given accurate information. Blackboard allows the instructor to request an email when a question is posted.
- Collect assignments online for ease of access, grading, and redistribution. This saves class time and ensures that all assignments are turned in with a time stamp. Grades can go directly to the grade center for student access.
- For large classes, using an electronic response system can save time for taking attendance and also records scores for in-class questions and pop quizzes. Loyola's campus standard system for classroom response is i>Clicker.
- Electronic lessons, even entire courses, can be saved for future use. It is always a good idea to revise lectures and content and check web links for accuracy each time the course is reoffered.