Limits And Hazards Of Technology
Be sure to make the technology suit your lesson plan, not the other way around. The lesson is the scaffolding around which you can build an interesting presentation that incorporates technology. Never build your lesson around the technology because Murphy's Law says: "If it CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong!"
Technology Aids but Does Not Substitute for Good Teaching Practices
Effective teaching starts with effective methods. Technology only amplifies your efforts.1
- Too much technology can be distracting and even boring. Experience suggests that the best way to hold students' attention is to prepare a well-organized lesson that is supplemented with appropriate technology. Haven't we all sat through a well-animated PowerPoint presentation that told a dull story?
- Establish clear goals for your introduction of technology into the classroom and especially for the use of a particular tool in the lesson. Ask yourself the following question: “Have I added real value to the student experience by incorporating this technology or tool into the class today?”
- Keep in mind that students may be tempted to skip your class if all there is to your class is hearing aloud what they can read from your Blackboard without ever having to come to class. The same can be said for the in-class video-perhaps the dinosaur of classroom tech. Technology should enliven and illuminate or on balance it may not be worth your effort or the students' time.
When Technology Fails
Be flexible using any technologies!
- Even the most well-planned deployment of a technology may not work as planned in a live situation, so always have a back-up plan. How many times have you seen a presenter have to go to the overhead because the laptop and projector won't play nice?
- If you are “new” to the technology take a moment to dry-run it before class. For example, install the equipment early if you can. Also, take a moment to ask technology support staff to explain the details to you. Prepare: have ready the appropriate phone numbers for technical assistance - or at least know where to go in case you need help.
- Prepare yourself psychologically. Keep calm… and be ready to resort to humor if everything goes wrong. When the DVD player is not working or you trip over a cord? That's a great opportunity to turn to a backup prepared lesson plan.
- Remember, if all else fails, take the lead. While you cannot control technology, you may control your own class.
- If students report a problem to you, take this seriously, and report the problem to the people in charge.