Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

Faculty Technology Readiness

Skills and Strategies for Teaching with Technology

Whether teaching completely online or in a traditional classroom, our approach to teaching is evolving because of the role technology plays in our students' lives. Using technology is no longer relegated to the social environment but has now become an expectation in the classroom among our students. How do we, as faculty, address this shift from the former model of teacher-as-deliverer of all knowledge to teacher-as-facilitator of learning?

While the "net-geners" (students who have grown up with Internet access) may have different social interaction and relaxation practices (often involving technology) than students of previous generations, research suggests they are education- and goal- oriented (Barnes, 2007). The challenge in educating our contemporary students is that they learn differently than the students who graduated even a few years ago. As heavy technology users, net-geners are more comfortable learning in hands-on situations and using methods that require inquiry (Barnes, 2007). But does this shift in learning style mean that faculty must completely change how they teach? After all, faculty, too, have comfort zones that revolve around their own teaching and learning preferences. Additionally, we may not be doing our students justice if we do not expect them to function to some extent in the arenas of traditional academic approaches.

The solution is a compromise: faculty need to rethink how materials are presented, keep the best strategies and restructure those that may no longer be effective. Lectures have been maligned over the past decade as antiquated modes of delivering materials, yet some faculty rightly contend that some lecture-style delivery is important in their discipline. Are there ways to incorporate the need for lecture with the technology available on campus? Could lectures be presented in short, online segments so class time could be used for more interactive activities? These are the types of questions we need to be asking ourselves as we prepare to teach with technology.

As we begin introducing technology into our courses, whether they are traditional, blended or online in format, there are some considerations that impact our decisions. The following is an incomplete list designed to stimulate thinking about student and faculty needs.

  • Students:
    • What requisite technology skills are reasonable to expect from students in the course?
    • Are these skills related to the professional expectations in the field (will students have to exhibit proficiency in these skills in order to advance professionally)?
    • Are there any significant generalizations that can be made about students' who typically enroll in the course?
  • Faculty:
    • How comfortable is the faculty member with traditional technologies (email, file management, Word Processing, internet use)?
      • Emerging technologies? (web 2.0 sites for social networking, etc.)
    • What is the faculty member's preferred teaching style?
    • How does the faculty member prefer to interact with students?
    • How much time does the faculty member have to learn new technologies?
    • What level of technical support is available for training and classroom assistance?
    • Is the faculty member open to being flexible and accepting a certain level of uncertainty in the approach to the classroom?
    • What is the comfort level of the faculty member with course content/material?
  • Discipline/Course:
    • What type of expectations does the discipline hold for delivery of content?
    • Are there prerequisites to this course or is this course a prerequisite for other courses?
    • What are the student learning outcomes for the course?
    • How will using technology impact progress toward those outcomes?
    • What technology expectations are implicit in the discipline? The profession?

Too often, faculty members jump at using technology because it is popular with students or because it is new and exciting. This is not necessarily a negative position, but if the technology does not serve an educational purpose, it is self-serving rather than productive: technology for its own sake. The amount of technology integration a faculty member incorporates should be driven by course objectives: what outcomes are expected and how can technology help the students reach these outcomes? Additionally, while faculty, as well as students, need to move outside their comfort zone when investigating educational technology use, there still needs to be a certain confidence that the technology can be mastered and incorporated without too much chaos. (Some might argue that a little chaos is a good thing as it keeps people thinking and moving).

As we determine what technologies to implement in our courses, we want to be certain that our selections will maintain the intent and integrity of our course objectives.

Qualities of an Online Educator

This section provides some considerations for faculty planning to teach an online course.

What does it take to be a good online instructor? What are the challenges I will face as I move into the online-teaching arena? These are just a few of the questions faculty should ask themselves as they begin preparing to take the leap into cyber instruction. We have provided a number of resources below that provide checklists and suggestions for success in online teaching.

The realities shared by Loyola colleagues all suggest that planning and preparation are the best allies of those preparing to teach online. Here are a few other characteristics frequently listed for successful online teaching:

  • Is comfortable with technology, though not necessarily an expert.
  • Is willing to accept a certain amount of chaos in the learning process
  • Is willing to relinquish the role of lecturer in favor of more student-lead activities
  • Responds to students' needs in a timely manner
  • Open to accepting comments and suggestions by students in a positive manner
  • Is able to clearly articulate expectations for students and instructor
  • Manages time efficiently
  • Exhibits some flexibility regarding students' interpretation of assignments

There are many more items that could be listed, most of which apply to teaching in any medium. Our goal is to raise an awareness of the time and planning commitment involved in online teaching. Many faculties contend that they know their students better when interacting with them online. Research supports the contention that more students participate more often when courses are online.

The more successful online courses are those that were taught previously in the face-to-face environment and evolved into an online experience. Ideally, course materials can be developed and tested with on-ground students for their suitability online. When courses are developed over time, materials tend to be better suited to the needs of the online student while still providing the content overview needed for learning.

Before determining to teach online, talk with colleagues with online experience and get their ideas of what will work well in the discipline. Informed planning is the key to success.


Barnes, K., Marateo, R.C. & Ferris, S.P. (2007) Teaching and learning with the net generation. Innovate.

Turner, L. (2005) 20 technology skills every educator should have. the Journal.  Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2005/06/01/20-technology-skills-every-educator-should-have.aspx

Academic Technology Resource Center. Palomar College. Teaching with technology: Teaching online. Retrieved from http://daphne.palomar.edu/BlackboardTraining/Documents/OnlineCourseDevelChecklist.PDF Kim, K–J. & Bonk, C. (2006) The future of teaching and learning in higher education.

Quarterly, 29(4), p22–30. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/home.htmlaccno=EJ839337&ERIC%250b%250dExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ839337 Smith, T.C. (2005). Fifty-one competencies for online instruction. The Journal of Educators Online. 2 (2).