Saturday, August 10, 2013

Response to an Overwhelmed Professor about Tech

Original post
"God do I hate technology"
     I started thinking when I read this post from the blog “The Online Science Educator for the Distance Learning Community.” I believe Geralyn Caplan stands where a lot of educators do when integrating technology into education. She may even be ahead of her peers because she acknowledges her frustration, yet perseveres in including technology. I don’t believe technology is the underlying issue, I believe the rate of change is the frustration of educators today.
     At one of the Universities where I work, the course curriculum did not change for ten years of my instructing in the courses offered for the degree. There were paper modules for students and instructors to follow. The information in the modules for some courses, like management, was out of date. I followed the basic outline of the modules, but added up to date information on subject matter. I made sure I included core concepts from the other courses in the cohort and researched how these core concepts have evolved. Even with this update of information for courses, the way I delivered the information did not change much back then. 

     Pedagogy today is similar to how faculty have taught for decades. Active, informed, and problem based learning, peer led discussions and small group work, are all still utilized in the classroom. I will focus on two differences in curriculum development increasing the challenges for instructors. The first is how curriculum content is delivered within the classroom. Differentiation strategies have expanded how students can learn more effectively, broadening pedagogical approaches. The second is integrating technology into differentiation strategies and appropriate digital solutions for the applied content of course concepts. Technology is evolving at a rapid rate. Not only do professors need to differentiate material, but keep up with how technology can benefit students and their profession.
     Learning Management Systems (LMS), like blackboard or D2L, evolve and include new tools. Some schools even switch LMS’s due to effectiveness or expense. Change is not occurring by the decade, change occurs by semester. At times, the rate of change can even be less than a semester if a significant discovery advances course content. Change is not just about research based content anymore, but how the content is delivered and applies to integrating digital solutions in curriculum. 
New research evolves every day. The way curriculum is being taught is shifting.  Students in one of my classes took part in a Twitter debate with three other social work schools across the country. This type of exercise stayed with the students even into the next semester. They spoke about what they learned and how it affected them. This lesson expanded to how they could use Twitter at their internships and where they worked. Technology innovation creates the need for faculty to broaden their horizons and accept change in every field. I had never participated in a Twitter debate, nor was I comfortable with the technology. Twitter? The program seemed useless to me. Because I opened myself to change I found a new way for students to relate to material and increased my understanding of new digital solutions with Twitter. My initial bias was more due to fear of change than the evils of technology.
     So, do most faculty hate technologies or do they hate the rate of change technology brings to their profession? Maybe the place to start with is Universities being aware of the Transtheoretical model of change and educate faculty about integration of technology with these processes in mind.