Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

Wikis, Podcasts, Blogs, Social Bookmarking, Instant Messaging – It can be overwhelming!
September 18, 2007, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Articles

I just read an excellent article in the Educause Review entitled “Wikis and Podasts and Blogs! Oh, My! What is a faculty member supposed to do?

I added a few technologies in the title of this blog post, but the central idea is around the often increasing gap between what students of the Net Generation expect, and what faculty that are teaching at educational institutions today are prepared to deliver as far as technology is concerned in teaching and learning.

This article opens with an excellent “day in the life” of a faculty member in which several barriers and issues arise in an often common scenario that faces many of the faculty that I’ve talked to here at GRCC. From complications to logging into systems with a variety of usernames and passwords that often expire, to technology updates, to email overload, to attempting to leverage new technologies pedagogically. It can be a time consuming endeavor!

The article makes some good points and I wanted to highlight some of them here:

  1. The Never-Ending Gaps – There is a gap between student’s and faculty levels of experience with using technology for entertainment, productivity, social connection, etc. This digital divide doesn’t seem to be slowing down.A significant point made is related to K-12 experiences that students are now receiving as a result of many technology standards that are currently implemented by 98% of all states. In other words, these technological experienced students are HERE NOW at GRCC and more are coming!

    Contrast these K-12 experiences with the typical faculty workload around teaching, service, and research. It doesn’t appear that most faculty have had the time to learn and keep up. The article includes this statement which describes this situation very nicely: “…as higher education institutions struggle with limited budgets to support faculty and move courses online… faculty are now expected to embrace learning technologies along with everything else, challenging the institution to help them make sense of what works and how to work it.”

    I’d like to think that one of the goals of the Learning Academy is to come along side faculty and to help them sort through this overwhelming array of technological options.

  2. The Technology Adoption Cycle – The focus here is on the time it can take to fully implement a technology into a pedagogically sound purpose. The problem can be perpetuated with a constant change in technologies available and often a lack of information. Again, I believe that one of our responsibilities as an institution is to do we what can to help clarify, streamline, and share information collectively so that faculty can learn from each other – both the successes and failures.
  3. Lack of Integrated Technology Tools – The point here is that often new technologies are available that require separate interfaces, logins, and learning curves. One of the things that we have focused in on here at GRCC is to chose new and emerging tools that have some integration with our existing system. Take for example the blogs and wiki tools that are available. There are many “external” sites that faculty have access to, however, since we have Blackboard and Learning Objects Campus Pack (Wikis and Blogs), there is a very powerful integration between these 2 different applications through the use of Blackboard Building Blocks. What this does is makes it easy for faculty and students to access these new features without an extra login, or the requirement of learning a new interface.
  4. Web 2.0 Applications – One of the most exciting things happening in “tech” these days is Web 2.0. Essentially the use of rich, web based applications that are centered around a social framework of communication and collaboration. Which by the way, is one of the essentials of effective teaching and learning. That is, being able to connect, collaborate, and communicate with others and the subject matter. The goal, I believe, is to use the technology to create an interactive environment where students are not passive participants in the learning process, rather, they are as actively engaged as the professor through the course.As I review the options we have available through Blackboard, I am impressed to see that in many ways we have the tools available to begin to leverage new technologies in the teaching and learning process. We just need to operationalize the information delivery, support, and training aspects. For example, through Blackboard we have the ability to use the following communication and collaboration tools: announcements, blogs, audio discussions, instant messaging with profiles, podcasts, wikis, group pages, discussion boards, and social bookmarking with profiles.

    Instant Messaging with Pronto & Blackboard

  5. Emerging Technologies – As new technologies come along, the article suggests that a good method of reviewing these new capabilities includes: “1) capturing current practices, 2) determining the needs, wants, and preferences of both faculty members and learnings, and 3) carefully matching the pedagogical value of the tools as it relates to teaching and learning behaviors”. I think the last statement is very important as this grounds the use of technology for the purpose of student success.

I believe that through working together and sharing our experiences and expertise, we can build each other up and begin to take advantage of the unique capabilities that are offered to us, with the ultimate goal being STUDENT SUCCESS.


1 Comment so far
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Overwhelming indeed… as a teacher educated over 20 years ago, I struggle to keep current with the latest technological innovations my students speak of accessing on a daily basis. Taking the initiative to improve myself, I enrolled in a course to hopefully bring me “up to speed” with some of these latest technological marvels. Otherwise, I most definitely agree that the gap will only widen that much more.

Student success, especially my own will help me to better access this ever advancing world of technology in which we live. Maybe then, I can better serve the students in my care.

Still, my questions are many but one stands out, how do we teachers organize everything we are required to do AND keep up with the technological advances in our ever changing world? It seems once we do find the resources and time to update ourselves, it will soon be nearly obsolete in a year or two.

How do we find a balance to serve our students and not invest so many of our personal time hours trying to stay current?

Comment by j205sl

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