One of my top priorities as an educator is to develop dynamic lectures where students are engaged and stimulated. So, I use a variety of technology throughout the semester to ensure students are engaged and to reduce distraction and boredom in the classroom. Depending upon the class and the daily objectives, I develop activities that incorporate one of the following technologies:
This learning technology is fun and easy to use! Students can use smartphones or laptops to play. Kahoot! allows instructors to use multiple-choice questions to review course material, check for understanding, or prepare for an upcoming quiz or exam. Students LOVE playing, and it creates a dynamic classroom where they can compete live using a screen name of their choice.
This is my one of my favorite technologies to use for group work!
Instructors can post a link so students can access Padlet. A posted prompt or question will appear that needs to be addressed. One person from the group can record the group’s response. Paddle can be monitor by the instructor and the other groups, because of the shared platform where response are recorded. In order to use Padlet, only one group member needs a computer or tablet to access the link. Another great feature is that it can be projected, so every student in the group has access to the information posted. Group members can practice their public speaking skills by presenting results, even it they did not transcribe for the group. Using the link provided, the information posted in the created Padlet can be used in a later class meeting or by students as they prepare for assignments or assessments.
Grammarly is a free program that checks for spelling and grammar errors. It helps to improve the overall quality of written submissions. This can be beneficial for students and educators too! In the interest of transparency, I have to confess, I struggle with grammar and occasionally misuse words when writing. I also overlook mistakes made when proofreading my writing. Therefore, I use Grammarly to edit my writing. It works well with Google Chrome, or papers can be uploaded directly into Grammarly. This is a really helpful tool. Give it a try!
I also use PowToon to create short videos for students. This can help bring concepts to life in a short film. It allows instructors to script the interaction between people and show this interaction in a short film using cartoon characters. I also encourage students to use this when creating presentations. For example, a student may write a script and use PowToon to demonstrate good doctor patient interaction or how to deliver bad new to a patient. PowToon can also help bring textbook interactions to life. Rather than simply reading textbook examples, instructors can animate them using PowToon.
Which Technology Should I Use?
The technology decisions that I make are not only dependent upon the course, the topic objectives, and the content being covered on a particular day, but are also dependent upon my students and what they have available to them in the classroom. Students use technology! It is rare to find a student without a computer, phone, or an iPad in class. This has definitely changed over the years, and therefore, I evolved my teaching pedagogy to meet that times that I am currently teaching in. When determining what type of technology to incorporate, remember to consider these factors and determine which type of technology will be the most effective. Do not select a technology and build your lesson around the technology. Create your lesson and then determine what type of technology can be incorporated to enhance the lesson.
I get nervous when using new technology. I worry about if and how it will work. I worry that it may take up to much class time and not be worth it. However, with the aforementioned technology, I have been surprised at how easy it was to integrate into my lectures and how motivated students were to access and use these resources. One way that I build confidence when using new technology is by testing it before using it in my class. I ask my coworkers and friends to be my test subjects! For example, I create Kahoot! questions and ask my friends to play. We use Padlet in faculty meetings. I used Grammarly for weeks before sharing it with students. And, PowToon is fun use to send a funny video message to a colleagues before trying it in class! By testing new technology before including it as part of a lesson, stress is reduced and confidence is built before sharing it with students.