The Internet is quickly becoming a read/write environment. The number of interactive webpages that are created every day in the form of blogs, wikis, and forums is numbered in the thousands. Our students will be presented with opportunities to change websites on the fly, publish entire webpages with a simple copy, paste, and click of a button, and communicate with streaming presentations and video feeds. Educating a generation of students that will be able to cope and communicate effectively in this environment begins with them being able to communicate responsibly with one another using the technologies that are available now, under the guidance of a trained (and tech savvy) educator.
We can’t discusse technology in education without understanding whose responsibility should it be to support and encourage faculty to use technology?
In general, I would posit that the answer to this question is certainly multi-faceted. On one hand, it is clearly the individual faculty member’s responsibility to use technology as part of his/her educational repertoire of tools. After all, if one is to be an effective educator in the year 2012, one should have the ability to use technology as one means of educating. The very heart of academia is the effective delivery of instruction (in addition to the other two legs of the proverbial academic stool – namely research and service) which in some way is often measured by being current with pedagogical options. We know that several factors influence an individual’s choice to use technology; such factors include one’s own beliefs, fears and perception of competence (see Osika, Johnson, and Buteau) and that faculty needed to be guided as they develop their own beliefs and competence in using technology. Faculty need to be innovative and desire, I believe, to be effective at what they do. Innovation in teaching could certainly lead one down the path of finding and using really cool technology that fits his/her pedagogical goals. Mark Donovan presents an interesting take on how we think about and refer to teaching with technology. Faculty can be inspired to be innovative -thereby finding their way to technology in the classroom.
I do believe, it is also the responsibility of the institution to both encourage and support the faculty member’s experimentation with, and integration of, technology as an academic tool. By “institution”, I mean both central and college level administration. The lack of administrative support is often identified as a barrier to faculty using technology (see Covington, Petherbridge, and Warren). It is the department chair person who is often the closest to faculty and the person who should provide the most encouragement and support. At this level, the support I’m referring to is emotional support, financial support, and general overall support in communicating a faculty member’s needs to the dean and higher level administration.
I believe that whomever controls the funds should also provide support financially to allow faculty to not only use technology in teaching, but to experiment with technology as needed. Too often faculty simply don’t know what is available to them. Ample amounts of, and all types of, technology solutions should be made available for faculty to try and use in small test cases.
Finally, I think students are certainly responsible to some degree for encouraging faculty to use technology. I mean who are we teaching after all? The students we see each day in our class readily use technology in every aspect of their life. They are super savvy with technology, are connected all the time, and see technology as a natural part of their day (see Ratliff for a great discussion on this). Although as faculty and administrators, we need to look carefully at how to best teach them (e.g. with technology), I believe students could find greater success in encouraging their faculty to use technology than the others mentioned above. Students are quick to throw out a technology solution to a problem (like how to get a group engaged outside of class or how to share documents with one another or how to share a study tip by the faculty) and to even demonstrate its use to the faculty.
What are your thoughts?
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