A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation on new educational technologies at Concordia University in Montreal. About 150 faculty members and graduate students turned out for the presentation, an impressive number considering that the presentation took place early on a Friday morning. The number of attendees attests, though, to a growing conviction at universities that new educational technologies can enhance three things:
With regard to the first of these, many new educational technologies — especially Web 2.0 ones such as Twitter, blogs, wikis, VoiceThread, and Google Wave, to name only a few — facilitate collaborative learning and/or peer-to-peer learning. Others technologies, such as screencasts, allow students to view and re-view multiple times course concepts that are especially challenging.
As for assessment, the educational use of some Web 2.0 technologies — such as Twitter — results in a written record of participation for each student that can be assessed more accurately than an instructor’s subjective recollection of a student’s verbal contributions to class discussion. In the classroom, a technology such as clickers — which have been around long enough now that it might be a misnomer to call them a “new” technology — can help provide students with a quick and on-the-spot assessment of how well they understand a unit of material.
With regard to efficiency, a technology such as Google Moderator can help an instructor of a large class determine in advance which questions posed by students are most salient or which ones are shared by the greatest number of students. Class time, as a result, is used more efficiently. On the other hand, Twitter can help students answer each other’s “routine” questions, allowing the instructor more time to focus on deep questions.
What I’ve mentioned here are just a few brush strokes toward using new educational technologies to enhance learning, assessment, and efficiency. I provide more detail for these technologies — and a dozen others — in the screencast version of the presentation I gave in Montreal, which my hosts at Concordia were canny enough to create. After all, while the live version of my presentation lasted for one morning and was attended by 150 people, the screencast version will persist for months (or even, yikes, years), and might ultimately be viewed by 1500 or 15,000 people around the globe. That’s just one more example of how a new learning technology — screencasting — can enhance learning and efficiency.
You can watch the screencast version of my presentation here.
The Centre for Teaching Excellence welcomes contributions to its blog. If you are a faculty member, staff member, or student at the University of Waterloo (or beyond!) and would like contribute a posting about some aspect of teaching or learning, please contact Mark Morton or Trevor Holmes.