What's new in university teaching technology?
March 17, 2010 3:17 AM   Subscribe

What's new in university teaching technology?

I'm familiar with online teaching environments (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.), wikis in the classroom, game-based learning, and the like. What are the other hottest new things being trialed in universities right now? Subject-agnostic technologies are a bonus; links to descriptions or academic cites greatly preferred.
posted by Paragon to Education (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure it's "new", but I've been seeing increased use of clickers.
posted by purephase at 4:51 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hmmm. Most of the discussion I hear is not about technologies but techniques -- integrating things like active learning, problem-based learning, better assessment, and so on into the curriculum. Also so higher-level discussion about linking courses by theme was well as major to allow for interdisciplinary approaches to various "large scale problems." I could go on about this all day.

For my part (being an academic librarian who teaches), the technology I use in my courses (25 students, mostly) is usually a little more intimate -- I use sakai for course management, a SMARTboard in the classroom, and SMART Synch (from the same SMART company) for management of classroom computers. None of this is particularly cutting edge, but we are developing a more integrated approach as we go along.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:39 AM on March 17, 2010

PLE - Personal Learning Environments and Open Educational Resources (OER). Read/Subscribe to Stephen Downes. Personally, I think a lot of the interesting thinking is happening in the UK under the aegis of JISC, but that shouldn't exclude Australia and the rest of Europe.

With that said, it depends who you ask. Educause and The (hyperventilating) Chronicle are typically five years behind the bloggers and experimenters, but that doesn't stop them taking the credit.
posted by idb at 6:01 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Definitely clickers, as purephase mentions. I've seen a lot of research on their value in the classroom. We always hear about gimmicky tech in the classroom, and I'm usually very skeptical about trying to solve problems by adding a new layer of complexity. I'm very excited about clickers.

Smartboards seem to be useful in the middle school classroom in which I work (I'm on a grant that puts academics in K-12 classes) but I'm not a fan of their use in college classes.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:09 AM on March 17, 2010

I do a lot of drawing over websites, so the SMARTboard and its ilk are pretty useful to me at the university level. Clickers, on the other hand, are less useful (although we have a grant going to pilot them, so my opinion could change), mostly because our classes (both 1-shot and semester-long) tend to be 20-30 students, whereas clickers seem most useful in larger classes, where individual participation is difficult.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:36 AM on March 17, 2010

The document camera is the wave of the future. Some teachers at my inordinately well-funded public high school got these four years ago and they were the coolest teaching machines ever. Here is how to use them. I know that Richard Muller, who teaches Physics for Future Presidents at Berkeley, has one, but I've never seen another professor use one here.
posted by Sam Ryan at 7:47 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

My dept records and live streams almost all classes. Recordings are available after class. The video is a side-by-side feed of the professor talking and his slides or document camera image; there's even a steerable camera that zooms in on a student when he or she asks a question. This is all insanely expensive tech but the school makes it back on tuition from professionals who attend class at work (and pay a substantial extra fee to do so).

One classroom has a large plasma screen for each cluster of students, so you can have several small group presentations at once.

In a computer programming class taught in a lab, I whipped up some software that let students submit solutions and they'd appear anonymously on the projection screen. We could give students 5 minutes to work on a problem, then pick a few solutions and discuss their merits without embarassing anyone. This worked really well but I haven't had a chance to develop the software into something usable for others.
posted by miyabo at 9:40 AM on March 17, 2010

I do a lot of drawing over websites, so the SMARTboard and its ilk are pretty useful to me at the university level.

At the university I attended, they put in quite a few smart whiteboards in their high-tech-learning facility that students used for group revision sessions etc.

I saw them being used as whiteboards, with the computer part disabled.

I saw them being used as data projectors, to show things from the internet.

I saw them being used to draw mustaches on people's facebook photos.

I never saw them being used as smart whiteboards.
posted by Mike1024 at 11:16 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

myabo: that's a cool idea. It really is similar to the clicker idea, only less "multiple choice".
posted by monkeymadness at 3:05 PM on March 17, 2010

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