The Future of Educational Technology (First Draft)

Now that I’ve processed my experience with the “faculty development question” at yesterday’s meeting of our committee on the Internet and social media, I find myself thinking more about the explicit charge of the committee. How can digital technologies enhance the teaching mission of our university? Here’s a first draft of an answer to that question.

  1. Technology can help our students connect their academic work with the rest of their lives. Margaret Rubega’s use of Twitter in her ornithology class at the University of Connecticut is a simple, but dramatic example of this.
  2. Technology can help our students practice integrative learning, connecting their learning across the courses they take. I gather that this kind of integrative learning takes place at the University of Mary Washington through their blog initiative, UMW Blogs.
  3. Technology can help our students find authentic audiences for their work, increasing their motivation to learn deeply. See my Chronicle essay, “A Social Network Can Be a Learning Network,” for some examples.
  4. Technology can help our students move from consumers of information to producers of knowledge. Check out this course on social and political perspectives on tourism at the University of Lincoln, or this mobile app for collecting examples of graffiti, an app designed and used by students at the University of New Mexico.
  5. Technology can help our students be more engaged and learn more actively in the classroom. I write often about classroom response systems and backchannels, and occasionally about Google jockeys.
  6. Technology can help us make “thin slices” of student learning (to use Randy Bass’ term) more visible, which in turn helps us better understand our students and be more responsive to their learning needs. Clickers work well for this, of course, but check out Mark Sample’s collection of “live tweets” written by his students while watching Blade Runner for some interesting examples of “thin slices.”

What would you add to this list?

Image: “Choices,” me, Flickr (CC)

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