History Department Brownbag on Educational Technologies for Classroom Teaching

I have the opportunity to talk with the Department of History at UT Arlington about some easy ways to integrate technology into teaching practice. This blog has some additional information beyond what I discussed at the brownbag today.

HOUSED IN THE LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LMS)

  • Journals – In Blackboard, these are a very easy tool to integrate into teaching practice. I typically use them for no- or low-stakes reflection for topic material. These are open-ended questions that do not have right or wrong answers, which promotes critical thinking development with minimal risk. It is also a skill-building exercise for formal writing where students process material informally before completing larger formative and summative assessments. Given the number of students and reflections in my courses, I give class-wide feedback through a place called Professor D’s Corner. This helps save on grading time, but I can typically get a sense of whether or not students understand the material. I can also prompt them further and give additional resources in a reteaching capacity.
  • Discussion Forums – In my course, these are more of a place for writing development through peer feedback. The writing is more formal than the reflection journals, but they have the opportunity to improve their writing over the course of a week.
  • Microlearning Approach – This is something that I want to continue to develop, but it is a useful strategy for student feedback and retention. This approach uses brief, topical readings/videos/etc. that are focused on specific objectives. An effective practice can include providing immediate assessment with feedback to determine comprehension and some tools have integrated data collection that can show where students are struggling. Microlearning is also useful as mobile learning strategy that is great for increasingly non-traditional students. Visualize a student listening to a mini-lecture while waiting at the DMV rather than playing Angry Birds!
  • Assignment Banks – I use these an additional pathway for students to address learning objectives en lieu of a traditional exam. Students have the ability to choose any medium of submission, as long as it hits all essential points. Submissions have included videos, flyers, posters, letters, op-eds, political cartoons, and standard cartoons. It is essential to have a rubric that is flexible and consistent regardless of medium of submission. When students submit their work, they will have the opportunity to provide peer feedback. When they are done, they complete a reflection and think about ways their work was good, if they would have changed positions after seeing other submissions, and ways they can improve for future submissions. This is also useful for providing artifact that students can keep, which works for ePortfolios and developing K-12 history teachers.

OUTSIDE OF THE LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

  • Domain of One’s Own – That is part of what this website is for me. It is a place where I can discuss my research and teaching practice, but also bring students together outside of the LMS. This is especially useful for onboarding before the course begins. Students can get a good idea about course expectations before Day 1. I have implemented use of a visual syllabus which helps break the traditional syllabus down into manageable chunks. Eventually, I would like students to have their own websites to increase ownership through artifacts and portfolios.
  • Facebook Page – I mainly used this for enrichment and sharing. The page served as a place for people to share things and have discussions outside of the class shell in Blackboard. One of my favorite activities included having students create memes.
  • Twitter Hashtag – I also used this for enrichment and sharing through a class hashtag. This was not as successful as the Facebook page, but I see potential for future engagement. I used the Twitter widget for Blackboard and personal website integration.

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