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Technology in the Classroom: Some Survey Results

January 30, 2012 4 comments

“I say bring it.”

This was the response a student gave on a survey I sent out over the weekend about the role of technology in the classroom.  While I’m certainly interested in how digital media can change and enhance historical scholarship, I’m equally intrigued by the ways it can shape the classroom.  In hopes of figuring out where students stand, I decided to send my class a survey over the weekend.  On the survey I asked them four questions:

  •  In what ways do professors utilize technology in the classroom?
  • Do you find these methods effective?
  • Rank the following in terms of how effective you think they would be in the classroom: powerpoint, blackboard discussion boards, twitter, podcasts, student blogs, student-made movies.
  • What role do you think technology should play in the classroom?

The first two questions yielded expected results.  Most professors use some combination of powerpoint, blackboard, and youtube/movie clips.  I was particularly interested in the second two questions, however, and the results surprised me.  Based on my extremely unscientific method of calculating the results, most students still prefer powerpoint and blackboard as a supplement to traditional lectures.  The concern, if that’s the right word to use, was that the technology needs to help break up the monotony of a 50-minute lecture.  That is certainly something I can sympathize with.  I was expecting more students to embrace the possibility of making movies, using podcasts, or having discussions on twitter.  Responses there were mixed, too.

Almost all the students did agree that technology has a role in the classroom, but I saw no clear consensus regarding ways to incorporate new media.  So in the end, I still remain unsure of what to do with new media as a way to add variety to class.  I suppose it will be an ongoing process, but I’m open to trial and error in future classes.

I’d be interested to hear what readers think.  How should we use new media to enhance teaching?

Categories: Teaching
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