Technology Failure…Now what?

Technology Failure....Now What?You are ready to begin class and the computer won’t start. Or you are prepared to share a video but the sound system is not working. The video won’t load! The projector will not turn on! Now what? The first thought for many college instructors is to let the class go early. And while students may appreciate being let go early, that is not what they are paying for. Technology failures are bound to happen. It is important to plan ahead so that when a technology failure occurs, you are prepared to move forward with the daily lesson.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

It is imperative to store important numbers in your cell phone. This can make all the difference in being prepare to handle the situation and feeling empowered or wasting time trying to determine what to do, which may leave you feeling powerless. Ask your mentor who you should call if there is a technology failure. Save the phone number in your cell phone so you are prepared for a technology failure.

Alternative Activities

Have some activities prepared that students can work on. Have a question that they can write a response to independently, then they can pair up and share while you work to get things up and running.

Modify and Move On…

Consider ways that your lesson be modified so that you can carry on with the daily lesson ensuring students are exposed to the information. Below are three suggestions:Technology Failure....Now What?-2

  1. Have students review information from the textbook jotting down the main points. This can be done independently or in pairs/small groups. Students can share the information that they discovered within a small group or to the entire class. As students share points that they wrote down, you can expand upon what is being presented. Add missing information or provide additional details related to the topic presented. Share an example to help illustrate the topic.
  2. Load your powerpoint into the Learning Management System (LMS). Students can use their laptops to follow along with the lecture on their personal computers. Students who did not bring a laptop or tablet to class can pair up with a peer and share his/her computer.
  3. Use the white board to jot down main terms or topics. Student can take notes by jotting down the terms and summarizing information that you share verbally as you expand upon each term or topic.

Key Terms and Personal Examples

Identify some main terms/concepts. Have students identify examples to illustrate each term. Tip: Personal examples are the best because making things personally relevant helps to retain the information. Have the students share the examples in small groups and select the best example within their group to share with the class. One student could be voted to write the example on the board or to share the example verbally with the class.

There are so many things that can go wrong with technology. It is not a question of IF but rather WHEN. Be prepared!

3 Practical Tips for Creating Effective Visual Aids

3 Practical Tips for Creating Effective Visual AidsOne of our pet peeves is bad visual aids! When we go into a class and observe an instructor who is using a power point or Prezi that is comprised entirely of text, it makes us extremely sad! This is so disappointing, because it’s a missed opportunity to effectively present information to students. Visual aids present content, offer demonstration, enhance credibility, illustrate content with examples, and increase retention, but only if they are visual in nature.

The learning pyramid  is one theory that suggests audiovisuals, such as Powerpoints, assist with 20% of average student retention rates. However, this is only true if the visual aid is effectively created and presented. Instructors, who copy and paste large amount of text on powerpoint slides and then read the information to students, are not being effective. How does this differ from the information that a student could read from his/her textbook? The visual aid should add substance to the topic that the instruct is lecturing on.

jeremy-yap-160713So ask your self these very hard questions and be honest! Are your visual aids effective? Have you balanced text and pictures? Are you adequately using contrast to focus student’s attention?

You are the presenter! You are the content expert! You are the person bringing the information to life. Your visual aid should enhance your lecture not be a word for word transcription of what you’re going to say on a screen beside you. Below are some practical tips to improve your visual aid effectiveness.

1. No Sentences! Limit Text.

Picture, pictures and more pictures. Your visual aid should not include complete sentences. Students can read the textbook; therefore, the visual aid should not include information copied and pasted directly from the textbook. It should include key words or phrase that help stimulate your memory, so you can effectively explain and discuss concepts. By limiting your text, it also ensure that you won’t read your power points to your audience. This enhances your credibility and allows you to demonstrate your content expertise.

2. Personalize

Effective visual aids are also personalized. Publisher’s power points can be a wonderful starting point, but if you use them, you should personalize them to fit your style and the concepts being presented. Consider imbedding videos, inserting relevant pictures, and breaking up the lecture slides with some active learning activities that simulate thought or assess learning. Personalizing your visual aid can also help to streamline your lectures. For example, you can include the instructions for an activity at the exact point in lecture when you want students engaged, rather than searching YouTube or printing directions and handing out copies to every student.

3. Death By Power Point 

This is an amazing TED talk that changed the way we present information to students! Colleagues that we have shared this with find it extremely helpful, so we are SUPER excited to share it with you. David Phillips, the owner of and leading figure on making effective presentations, talks about how to create more effective and visually appealing presentations based on his book “How To Avoid Death By PowerPoint”. His TED talk will change your entire approach to creating visual aids! To summarize the main points, David Phillips suggests only presenting one message per slide, using contrast and size to direct focus, not using complete sentences on slides, using dark backgrounds, and never including more than six points per slide. You can watch the entire video on YouTube here:

The slide below demonstrates the type of balance that is ideal. Notice how this slide focuses on a singular message, has a limited amount of text and a photo that relates to the topic of the slide.