Teaching and Learning Technologies

Blog for Teaching and Learning Technologies at William Jewell College

Archive for the tag “innovation”

The technology is there – where are the innovators?

I am still struggling with beginning conversations with my faculty about how technology can be used in the classroom to enhance the learning environment.  My initial goal was to have multiple conversations for faculty to work with one another to develop new ideas.  I have not realized this particular aspect despite setting aside specific times for such dialogues.  Not that I am sitting in my office waiting for someone, anyone, to stop by for my assistance.  My days are full, not with groups of faculty, but requests for one-on-one discussions.

As I contemplate this particular direction of growth of my department, I am left wondering several things.  Is this because faculty discussion opportunities are available in other settings with this just being one of many choices? Possibly individual faculty are wanting to talk about new things but, like many of their students, are not willing to speak up in front of everyone thus exposing their discomfort with technology. Am I not noticing the right ‘problems’ that technology could help?  How should I approach this?

As one might guess, this has me working overtime in the ‘wonder if’ department. I am open to trying new things to stir up a little enthusiasm.  I wonder if I target a few innovators and personally invite them for a discussion with a couple of non-adopters, this may provide the spark I need.  One of my initiatives is flipping the classroom. I have three or four interested faculty and a provost that wants it to happen.  I am going to pinpoint a time to send a personal invitation to each, maybe even the provost may come.  (Everyone wants face time with the provost) .

I will let you know what comes of this latest idea – and invite anyone with suggestions to comment.  This is an open ended problem that needs to be solved.

Creativity and Technology

A recent article in the Chronicle for Higher Education, So Many Hands to Hold , talked about students wanting to be given the ‘right’ answer or ‘correct’ topic. Many commented about the lack of critical thinking skills in today’s student.  One commented that her grandson could not find his way without his smart phone.  Another lamented that every subject should be computerized so students can blame the technology if they fail. As director of campus instructional technology and instructor in educational technology, I cringe at these thoughts.

That being said, my view is very much the same as the writer’s and commentors.  Yes, I find students find it difficult to break out of the rigid mold of right and wrong ways of thinking.  However, I also discover when I do not play the game, when I force the student to innovate, create and critically think, the students flourish.  Initially I hear grumbling of not being helpful 0r caring but after a few assignments they begin to get the message.  I have had more than one student tell me that my class was their favorite or that the collaborative atmosphere was the best ever encountered.

I have one rule – whatever the subject, the student must be willing to read or show it to their grandmother. Podcasting and digital stories are favorite assignments.So far, I have not had anyone challenge this rule.  I give very few specific instructions, just what is to be done and by when.  I use peer review for many assignments and have students give participation grades to members of their group.  One very dysfunctional group at the beginning of the semester turned out to be the highest achievers.

Yes, I have my disappointments, but one must concentrate on their  successes.  These successes make me want to continue trying to make creative, critical thinkers of my students.

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