Reluctance for Classroom Technology

Our discussion group discussed the topic of the Reluctant Technologist earlier this week. We were asked to collect information from some members of our department in advance of the meeting. THe timing of the request made it difficult for me to ask colleagues that I know are reluctant, but I had had prior discussions with them. So, I went to my social media and posted a request for feedback to Facebook.

Now, I have a lot of friends on Facebook, and a lot of them are academics somewhere. Two colleagues from Benedictine responded, as well as a science professors from a small school downstate and another out east, and a college professor turned IB school instructor overseas.

I think the most common comment I’ve heard, and the most common thread both online and off is:

I don’t use technology just to be using technology. If technology enhances what I do with/for students, I use it. If not, then I don’t.

The problem with this is that it’s not clear what is needed to demonstrate enhancement. I’ve seen studies that show that clickers increase engagement, and learning — where a novice instructor with clickers is at least as good as the expert instructor without. But clickers are on this campus, and used by a very small subset of people, mostly in the biology department.

How do those of us who use technology “sell” the effective tools to others? Of course, what’s effective in my discipline or situation may not be in yours — this semester, I have a class with a blog. It only meets once a week, and has students from at least five different Chicago-area colleges. It works great for getting them to “talk” to one another and get to know what others are thinking before they get to the class session.

I’ve presented technology in our college’s Science and Sociability sessions — in fact, I’m doing another one soon… I’ve presented about clickers during Faculty Assembly once, and in front of a large group of faculty about digital portfolios once. Do more of us need to make a habit of doing this more often? Do we need to become evangelists on our own campus?

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One Response to “Reluctance for Classroom Technology”

  1. Wilson Says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. I’m hearing more and more that *clear sense of purpose* is key. I would certainly agree that the conceptual and learning goals have to lead, and then the technology follows. This is why I enjoyed reading long challenging books in college–there was a clear sense of purpose. I do think that the usefulness of blogs in fostering academic community (and encouraging intellectual reflection) is becoming clearer to many teachers.

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