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Teaching and Technology

Integrating Technology in Your Teaching Practice

Educational technology encompasses the full range of tools and media that can be used to facilitate teaching and learning. There are many ways that technology can enhance teaching and learning; the most important thing to remember is that any technology must be used in a way that furthers your teaching objectives and goals. 

Integrating Technology in University Teaching

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What Technology is available in the classrooms at the U of S?

The University of Saskatchewan officially supports a number of technologies for the purpose of teaching and learning, including BBLearn, clickers, lecture capture, smart boards, blogging and wiki tools. In addition, you can receive technical training and guidance on using other social media and collaboration tools such as Twitter, social bookmarking tools, and a variety of Google applications for use in your teaching.

How can I get help with Technology?

If you are looking for information on how to learn the technological aspects of these tools, please contact ICT (see the Services and Support Available on Campus page). For guidance on how to make use of these tools for teaching and learning, please contact our office to set up a meeting with an appropriate member of our team.

Things to Consider

The SECTIONS framework (Bates & Poole, 2003, pp. 79-80) can help you keep track of the many factors to consider when integrating technology in your teaching practice:

  • Students – What is known about the students – or potential students – and the appropriateness of the technology for this particular group or range of students?
  • Ease of use and reliability – How easy is it for both teachers and students to use? How reliable and well tested is the technology?
  • Costs – What is the cost structure of the technology? What is the unit cost per learner?
  • Teaching and learning – What kinds of learning are needed? What instructional approaches will best meet these needs? What are the best technologies for supporting this teaching and learning?
  • Interactivity – What kind of interaction does this technology enable?
  • Organizational issues – What are the organizational requirements and the barriers to be removed before this technology can be used successfully? What changes in organization need to be made?
  • Novelty – How new is this technology?
  • Speed – how quickly can courses be mounted with this technology? How quickly can materials be changed?

Services and Support Available on Campus:

In addition to workshops and consultation available through the GMCTE, there are a number of services available to you through the U of S that can assist you in integrating technology into your teaching practice.

ICT Training Services offers “effective and up-to-date technology training solutions for the entire campus community”. Here you can find out about instructor-led courses about a wide variety of computer software and on campus systems.

ICT E-Learning Services provides support for the various e-learning tools available on campus. Support is available for PAWS course tools, blackboard, and clickers, as well as support for technologies related to quizzes, examinations and final grade entry, as well as course evaluations.

Media Access and Production (eMAP) “is a full service media division that supports the changing face of teaching, learning and researching on campus”. eMAP offers video and audio production, website design and instructional design services, equipment booking services and media installation, as well as support regarding copyright issues, the sales of University productions, and digital archiving.

Campus Supported Learning Technologies

BBLearn

BBLearn (Blackboard) is the learning management system (LMS) used by the University of Saskatchewan for the purpose of allowing students to connect with each other, content from a course and their instructor in an online environment. Every course, including those offered on campus, at the U of S has a BBLearn course shell set up where instructors can upload course content for students to access and make use of tools like the discussion boards and grade book. 

Clickers

Clickers allow for a variety of in-class activities, including surveys and quizzes. Contact ICT to find out what options you have for using clickers in the classrooms in which you teach.

Lecture Capture

A number of classrooms on campus are equipped with lecture capture technology. This allows for the simultaneous recording of the instructor giving a lecture and their slides or any other content going through the data projector. A single video is the result of the recording, which can be posted and shared with a chosen audience, usually within 24 hours of the initial recording.

These recordings may be beneficial to students in the face-to-face course (for review or if they miss a class) and for students taking courses at a distance.

Interactive Whiteboards

A number of classrooms around campus are equipped with interactive Smart™ products – Smart Boards™ and Smart Podiums™.

Smart Boards™ are interactive whiteboard systems comprised of a computer, projector, and touch-sensitive display screen. A Smart Board™ can enable an instructor or students to navigate, notate and/or manipulate digital objects using touch as the input device (rather than keyboard and mouse) as they are displayed on the display screen. When effectively used, they can help to facilitate increased student interaction and engagement with lectures and in-class learning activities.

Podiums™ are similar to computer monitors that give the instructor the ability to navigate and make notations on their presentation using a digital pen. The Podium™ technologies use a standard, rather than touch-sensitive, presentation display screen.

Blogs

Blogs have shown to have a number of benefits in education. Instructors can use them for their own reflections or for sharing content with their students or colleagues. Students who blog for courses frequently demonstrate improved writing skills. Public blogs can also act as portfolios of student work.

The U of S officially supports the campus-wide install of the Wordpress blogging platform.

Wikis

Wikis are Websites that allow for collaboration by a number of people. The most famous and largest wiki, Wikipedia shows how a large number of people can contribute to a single wiki.

Wikis can be used with students to plan projects, gather and create content, and comment on existing work, to name just a few possibilities. They can be either public or private.

The U of S officially supports its own wiki system.

Online Tools and Apps

Twitter

Twitter allows for mostly public messages of 140 characters or less (including spaces). There are a number of possible uses for Twitter in terms of teaching an learning. There are many educators on Twitter, sharing resources and discussing educational issues. Some instructors have also made use of Twitter to connect students through in-class “backchannels” or having students “tweet” about the course using a particular “hashtag” (a short descriptor designated for that course).

Google Apps

Google search has become so ubiquitous that instead of saying “I’m going to search that” people say “I’m going to Google that” but Google has a growing list of other tools that can be very useful for teaching and learning. You can view a list of Google products here.

Google Docs includes Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Forms, and Drawing. These can be useful for collaboration, sharing, surveys, sketching and convenient access to needed documents. If you have a Google account for any Google service (including Gmail and YouTube) that account will work to access and use any of these tools.

RSS-Reader Aggregators 

RSS readers allow you to subscribe to blogs, podcasts, Twitter feeds and other Internet based information. The information lands in your reader instead of you having to go to the blog, podcast, etc. to check for updates. It works much the same way as subscribing to a magazine so it comes to your mailbox instead of repeatedly going to the bookstore to see if the latest edition as arrived. Since Google Reader was closed, a reader called Feebly has become popular. You can view a list of other readers here.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo and Delicious allow you to bookmark a Webpage and access it from any computer. This can be especially useful if you use multiple computers.

Social bookmarking for education might include sharing bookmarks with students or colleagues and students sharing resources with each other.

Diigo allows for annotating Webpages and being able to access those annotations from anywhere. The GMCTE has a Diigo group where our staff share resources that that members of the U of S community might find useful.

Sources and suggested reading:

Bates, T., Poole, G. (2003). Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mishra, P., & Zhao, Y. (eds.). (2006). Faculty Development by Design: Integrating Technology in Higher Education. Greenwich: Information Age Publishing.

Richardson, Will (2010).  Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Smart Technologies™ Training and Professional Development Resources.

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