Despite being a small college in a rural community, as instructors, we are extremely blessed to have many classroom technologies available to us to enhance the teaching and learning experience for our students. Our illustrious IT department consists of two highly skilled and well-qualified technicians. They work diligently to meet the needs of about 35 full-time faculty members, a great number of adjunct faculty, as well as our students. We have a great deal of various software and hardware at our fingertips. Some of the examples of software includes the online management system Black Board and Camtasia which is a software that allows instructors to record lectures, presentations or screencasts to share online with students. Our classrooms are equipped with teacher computer work stations that are connected to overhead projectors. A variety of classrooms are equipped with computer work stations for students.
I’m very comfortable with all the software and hardware items mentioned above, however, what I’m challenged with is integrating the student use of computers in my classroom. The millennials that often fill my classroom seats are thoroughly engrossed in the internet and social media. Nair and Singh (2013), explain that young people today are more confident and comfortable when it comes to technology with any of their elders. The internet, smartphones and social media are a daily part of their lives. I would love to be able to safely incorporate social media and smartphones into the classroom as a teaching and learning tools. I think many instructors are too focused on keeping smartphones and laptops out of the classroom, for they would rather students focus on the lecture and the content. I, however, would love to integrate the two. There is really not a way to get around it. We instead need to embrace it.
I am currently a member of the professional development committee on campus. As a member of the community college system, we are required to participate in a number of hours per year. As a committee member, I am in charge of deciding what topics will be covered for the year as well as suggestions for any outside speakers to come on campus to share their expertise and knowledge with faculty and staff. Blin and Munro (2008), describe the current use of technology in higher education is often uneven and sporadic. They further reiterate the growing need for the educational community to account for the digital disconnect between enthusiastic rhetoric and the mundane realities of the college classroom. This unique opportunity allows me to have a voice and some decision-making power in bringing useful relevant student-centered topics to campus so that we as instructors can begin to learn how to harness the new tools of technology in positive useful ways that are conducive for students to learn.
Blin, F., & Munro, M. (2008). Why hasn’t technology disrupted academics’ teaching practices? Understanding resistance to change through the lens of activity theory. Computers & Education, 50(2), 475-490.
Nair, U., & Singh, P. (2013). Food For Thought: Can Social Media be a Potential ‘Learning Tool’for Universities?. Educational Quest: International Journal of Education and Applied Social Science, 4(2), 115-119.