Friday, September 20, 2013

Teaching Online (Part XIII) - If a little is good, than a lot must be...


     This was one of the favorite sarcastic sayings of my 8th grade Health teacher Mr. Anderson. As most of us know from experience, it is certainly not always true. The same point can be applied when it comes to technology. That may be odd to mention in a blog about online course design, but an important point to take a final moment to consider as we close this series.

     As with any teaching tool or method you should always ask, why am I using it? Remember, you are the ultimate teaching tool and have to make the decision on which secondary tools make sense and are effective. Have a good balance between using what you know works and trying new tools when the opportunity avails itself. Too much old and you get stagnate with tools of yesterday (which doesn't help students preparing for tomorrow), but too many new and you open yourself up to numerous issues and headaches if things don't work as you planned.

Here are some questions/points to consider:

  • What is the purpose? Don't let whiz, bang, boom, be the driving factor.
  • Is it easy to use or do you need to include a tutorial link/video
  • Will students need to download software?
  • What is the download time/ease of installation?
  • Take suggestions/learn from students, do they know a similar tool, allow them to use it and you might find you like it better.
  • Identify the need and then find the tool, not the opposite
  • Be willing to try new things, expand your comfort zone/knowledge base
  • Don't get frustrated by the fact that what is new today will be old tomorrow, embrace it, continue to learn and adapt. 
  • Wow students with quality over quantity. It doesn't matter that you know how to use five presentation tools if you cannot use one really well.
     Balancing new and old is a fine line, but one that must be accomplished if you want to offer the best learning experience possible for your students. That means we are not always comfortable, it means that things do not always work, but it means we are always looking for new ideas and searching for knowledge. After all isn't that what Higher Ed is all about? Keep searching and always share what you find!