Using Technology to Enhance Teaching & Learning
Technology provides numerous tools that teachers can use in and out of the classroom to enhance student learning. This page provides an introduction to some of the most common.
Faculty members should consult SMU's office of Academic Technology Services, which provides many kinds of support, including hands-on training in using classroom technology. (Click here for classroom-specific information about the setup in many campus buildings). SMU's STAR (Student Technology Assistant in Residence) Program is also available to help with short-term instructional technology projects.
There are also numerous on-line resources about using technology to enhance teaching in a number of different ways. For example, Teaching with Technology 2, from the Learning Technology Consortium, offers 17 peer-reviewed essays on using different kinds of educational technology, and the book can be downloaded for free. MERLOT is a huge, peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary resource for learning and online teaching. Here's a curated list, from About.me to Zotero, of free online tools that you can use in your teaching.
Below are links to resources on using specific types of teaching and learning tools.
SMU uses the course management system Blackboard. For help creating Blackboard courses and learning the basics, consult Academic Technology's Blackboard help page, as well as this Blackboard online tutorial. Access your Blackboard courses here.
Sometimes it's helpful to provide visual aids to complement teaching, stimulate discussion, or allow out-of-class teaching. Tools designed for this purpose, such as PowerPoint, can be used well or used badly. Click here for resources that provide advice for thoughtful use of PowerPoint, as well as a few additional presentation tools.
Classroom Response Systems ("clickers")
One way to encourage student engagement is by using electronic devices that allow students to record their answers to multiple choice questions and allow you to instantly display the results. The anonymity encourages participation, and their answers help the teacher know when further discussion is needed. Use of clickers can also serve as a catalyst for discussion. Click here to learn more about using response systems effectively.
Online Projects and Collaboration Tools
Technology can support student collaboration on creating new knowledge, reflecting on what they are learning, or working together to achieve a deeper understanding of course material. These articles provide ideas about their use and misuse.
Information Visualization Tools
Technology can also clarify and stimulate thought through transforming words into pictures. Here are some tools to help lead your students to think more critically by encouraging them to visually structure information.
Flipping the Classroom
How can we make the best use of the classroom time we have with our students? Sometimes a great way to move them toward higher levels of understanding is to move the lecture out of the classroom, and use in-person time for interactions that require applying, synthesizing, and creating. "Flipping" doesn't have to use technology, but tools such as videos, podcasts, online quizzes and the like can help in and out of class activity work together. These resources explain the theory underlying this teaching method and provide practical suggestions for making it work.
Whether for a flipped class or just as a resource for your students, you may want to create a podcast that conveys information students need for initial learning or review. SMU's Academic Technology Service can provide instruction on creating podcasts, and will loan you a podcasting kit. These articles discuss how to make and use podcasts effectively.
What could be more engaging than a good game, used well? These articles discuss why a game may lead to deeper learning and give some examples of their use in higher education.
Teaching with Tablet Computers
We're only beginning to explore their many possibilities for higher education. Here are some ideas.
Converting a Face-to-Face Course to an Online Course
Teaching online, whether in a hybrid course or a wholly-online course, requires different techniques and different tools. Without the F2F contact, professors will need to be even clearer about setting and articulating expectations for digital work and participation. Encouraging interaction between professor and student and among students is an additional challenge, as is monitoring student learning as the course progresses. The online environment requires the use of basic technologies to digitize course materials as well as mastery of the university's learning management system. And various tools like Skype allow synchronous communications, while blogs and Twitter can encourage asynchronous interaction. Here are some ideas to get you started.