<ul><li> When working with technology in the classroom, there are several things that can be done to maximize potential success and enhance learning. The following list of technology tips will provide an opportunity for new users to avoid common technology pitfalls that lead to classroom disasters and student/faculty frustration. </li></ul>
Always have an alternate plan or method ready in case of technical difficulties . <ul><li>Print off a copy of your PowerPoint slides to lecture from in case of computer server malfunctions. If there is a pattern of equipment failure (i.e. Smart Board problems in consecutive classes), be prepared to give the students a choice on what type of presentation they would prefer. </li></ul>
Work with the support staff before actually using the equipment to teach <ul><li>Have the support staff walk you through the equipment use (take good notes). What is simple or logical to a person who understands the equipment is not inherently easy or natural for the novice user. </li></ul>
Create a set of “idiot instructions” for the equipment <ul><li>Use the notes that you took during the training session to build a very simplified set of step-by-step instructions. Do not leave out any details, regardless of the perceived simplicity. These instructions may be most useful during an equipment malfunction during mid-class. </li></ul>
Become comfortable with seeing and hearing yourself on the television screen or videotape . <ul><li>If you show discomfort, the students will react accordingly. </li></ul>
Incorporate humor into difficult situations that may arise during class . <ul><li>Humor can really take the edge off a stressful situation. For example, during a WHETS class, the operator was not responding to a request regarding camera placement. The instructor knew that the operator was “managing” at least two other interactive classrooms at the time. Rather than getting frustrated, the instructor began calling out for the “omniscient, omnipotent operator.” </li></ul>
When dealing with distant sites, create the perception of “one classroom.” <ul><li>Bringing the distant sites into “one class” can be done by addressing distant students by name when asking questions, or by using small group activities at each site and having them report back as a normal part of your class work. </li></ul>
Do not hesitate to improve correctable situations in the classroom. <ul><li>The technology equipment may intimidate novice faculty, and as a result, they do not feel comfortable making changes. Correctable problems may include students spread out beyond camera range, improper microphone placement or adjustment, or lack of operator response to requests. Little changes can make major impacts on the learning environment. </li></ul>
Plan an activity that allows/requires students to utilize the technology. <ul><li>Have them make a short presentation with the whiteboard, power points, or the overhead camera. Students may </li></ul><ul><li>1) Determine that using technology is not always as easy as it looks, </li></ul><ul><li>2) Gain appreciation or respect for your skills/efforts while teaching with technology, or </li></ul><ul><li>3) Gain some sympathy or tolerance for your “lack of skills” with the technology. </li></ul>
Remember to weigh the “toy value” against the quality and presentation of material. <ul><li>When the bells and whistles outweigh the content, technology is being abused, rather than used effectively. </li></ul>
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