At New York University, Professor Clifford Siskin has required students to create wikis to accompany class presentations (example). Professor Michael Wesch posts videos for other academics on how to use Twitter, YouTube videos, collaborative Google Docs to replace traditional lectures in the classroom. The Wired Campus has run a series of articles on the use of Twitter as a teaching tool (check the links here). Casting Out Nines ran an article on how teachers can use Facebook. And recently, Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning developed a multimedia classroom tool called “MediaThread” which “connects to a variety of image and video collections (such as YouTube, Flickr, library databases, and course libraries), enabling users to lift items out of these collections and into an analysis environment” where they can be “clipped, annotated, organized, and embedded into essays and other written analysis” (http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/mediathread). These are just a few examples of the ways in which digital technology and social media are entering the classroom environment.
Personally, I’ve not yet used anything more advanced than Blackboard course pages and Powerpoint presentations in my teaching. My favored form of technology in the classroom is the blackboard. I might occasionally embed a video clip or demonstrate how to use a database, but none of that is particularly sophisticated. I tend to use digital technology in lecture as a means to gain student attention, or to make a specific point for which I think the medium is well suited. I know that this technology, particularly social media, has the capacity for more than entertainment, but I remain uncertain of its value in the classroom.
Some professors have argued against incorporating digital technology and social media in the classroom, arguing that flashy tech distracts already highly distractable students from the lesson, and that attention to including new tech may distract teachers from the point that tech was meant to reinforce. Others claim that using social media and other innovative digital technologies will assist teachers in reclaiming students’ attention, and when I see students disregarding a valuable lecture in favor of texting, tweeting, updating Facebook, and searching the web, I want to believe that jumping on the tech bandwagon will draw them back into the classroom.
So I’m asking for advice: how do you use digital technology in your classroom? Or do you? Why or why not? What drawbacks have you encountered, and what successes? How do the technologies you employ affect your pedagogical practices? Perhaps together we can sort out the most effective ways to integrate modern forms technology into our teaching practices.