Technology and Teaching: Embracing Interactive Learning

If you ask any group of today’s students, you’ll find that technology plays a central role in the lives of the vast majority. It’s therefore also a good bet that most would like to see their in-class learning tied more to the technology they use in their daily lives – such as lectures available for digital download and projects optimized for tablet use. Many institutions have started to embrace more interactive learning, but teachers are the ones who have to apply this day-to-day.

Here we look at some interesting techniques that teachers can use; it may involve investment in some technology, but there are some pretty reasonable deals on tablets from the likes of Misco at the moment, and it should lead to greater student engagement and more entertaining learning experiences.

Social media

Social media does not just have to be for filtered ‘arty’ photos and inane daily updates, it can be a quick and easy way for students and teachers to share resources and research in and out of the classroom. Using Twitter and a creative hashtag, you may even be able to engage external parties and discuss their comments live in class – it’s a very exciting way to have a debate.

Reading lists

The problem with directed reading is that it can be difficult, with a large class group, to establish who has done it and who hasn’t. Putting a reading list online and setting a short online discussion task gets the students engaged with the text and gives slackers nowhere to hide.

Class blog

Aside from directed reading, you want students to take the concepts delivered in class and apply them to everyday news articles, blogs and ideas. Setting up a class blog page gives students somewhere to post interesting items that might be of relevance, and get other students to pass their opinions – it’s much easier than getting them to speak up in class!

Video chats

Why not use video chatting to conduct lectures and bring in guest speakers from the outside? Allowing experts to speak from the comfort of their own home or office is likely to give you many more options than if you were making them come into class. Also, if you have a poorly-attended class because it’s right at the end of a day, consider running it via Skype or some other video chat service – you may find more people will engage if they can do so via their tablet or laptop at home.

Podcasts

By creating podcasts of lecture material, you can allow the students to listen to the more instructive parts of your teaching at their own leisure, which then frees up the in-class time for group discussions that are so essential for putting abstract concepts into context and developing understanding. You can even engage the students in podcasting, giving them a chance to get their thoughts on issues out into the world.

This is a guest post by Jordan Peck.

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