Technology provides numerous tools that teachers can use in and out of the classroom to enhance student learning. This page provides an introduction to some of the most common.
Faculty members should consult SMU's office of Academic Technology Services, which provides many kinds of support, including hands-on training in using classroom technology. (Click here for classroom-specific information about the setup in many campus buildings). SMU's STAR (Student Technology Assistant in Residence) Program is also available to help with short-term instructional technology projects.
There are also numerous on-line resources about using technology to enhance teaching in a number of different ways. For example, Teaching with Technology 2, from the Learning Technology Consortium, offers 17 peer-reviewed essays on using different kinds of educational technology, and the book can be downloaded for free. MERLOT is a huge, peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary resource for learning and online teaching. Here's a curated list, from About.me to Zotero, of free online tools that you can use in your teaching.
Below are links to resources on using specific types of teaching and learning tools.
SMU uses the course management system Blackboard. For help creating Blackboard courses and learning the basics, consult Academic Technology's Blackboard help page, as well as this Blackboard online tutorial. Access your Blackboard courses here.
Sometimes it's helpful to provide visual aids to complement teaching, stimulate discussion, or allow out-of-class teaching. Tools designed for this purpose, such as PowerPoint, can be used well or used badly.
Classroom Response Systems ("clickers")
One way to encourage student engagement is by using electronic devices that allow students to record their answers to multiple choice questions and allow you to instantly display the results. The anonymity encourages participation, and their answers help the teacher know when further discussion is needed. Use of clickers can also serve as a catalyst for discussion.
Online Projects and Collaboration Tools
Technology can support student collaboration on creating new knowledge, reflecting on what they are learning, or working together to achieve a deeper understanding of course material. These articles provide ideas about their use and misuse.
Information Visualization Tools
Technology can also clarify and stimulate thought through transforming words into pictures. Here are some tools to help lead your students to think more critically by encouraging them to visually structure information.
Flipping the Classroom
How can we make the best use of the classroom time we have with our students? Sometimes a great way to move them toward higher levels of understanding is to move the lecture out of the classroom, and use in-person time for interactions that require applying, synthesizing, and creating. "Flipping" doesn't have to use technology, but tools such as videos, podcasts, online quizzes and the like can help in and out of class activity work together. These resources explain the theory underlying this teaching method and provide practical suggestions for making it work.
Whether for a flipped class or just as a resource for your students, you may want to create a podcast that conveys information students need for initial learning or review. SMU's Academic Technology Service can provide instruction on creating podcasts, and will loan you a podcasting kit. These articles discuss how to make and use podcasts effectively.
What could be more engaging than a good game, used well? These articles discuss why a game may lead to deeper learning and give some examples of their use in higher education.
Teaching with Tablet Computers
We're only beginning to explore their many possibilities for higher education.
Converting a Face-to-Face Course to an Online Course
Teaching online, whether in a hybrid course or a wholly-online course, requires different techniques and different tools. Without the F2F contact, professors will need to be even clearer about setting and articulating expectations for digital work and participation. Encouraging interaction between professor and student and among students is an additional challenge, as is monitoring student learning as the course progresses. The online environment requires the use of basic technologies to digitize course materials as well as mastery of the university's learning management system. And various tools like Skype allow synchronous communications, while blogs and Twitter can encourage asynchronous interaction.
Both students and parents worry and stress about the money that college education is going to cost them. Scholarships can help take away some of that stress.
In the guidance office, a huge bulletin board is full of available scholarships for students. Students are able to pick up an application for any of those scholarships on the table below from the corresponding folders.“Most range from $500-$1500, maybe as high as $2000. The scholarships don’t always list the amount because it depends on the amount of money the scholarship committee raises during their fund raising events,” guidance counselor Mrs. Mary Beth Miller said.
There are a handful of scholarships that do get applied for by a lot of students. Some of them are easy to apply for because the student only has to complete one page of information. Some are popular because the criterion applies to a large group of people. An example would be a scholarship that lists volunteer services as part of the criteria. That scholarship is usually applied for by many students since so many students volunteer with Key Club and other organizations.
Local scholarships, like the Glenshaw Century, are also popular with the students. The Heather Claire Miller and Mary Ruth Jeffery are the most popular. Scholarships for Band, Chorus, or musical participants are always very because of the large number of students that participate in those programs.
However, certain scholarships have a very specific criterion that limits applicants to minorities or people going into a certain field.
“They are ones for students going into engineering and you at least have to have your initial major as engineering in order to apply for it,” Miller said.
Shaler Area Education Association, or the teacher’s union, has its own scholarship it awards a student. The student needs to be planning to pursue education as her or his major.
While some of the scholarships receive many applicants, other scholarships are unpopular among students.
“A consistently under applied scholarship has always been the Millvalin. Initially offered to students from Millvale, but when no one applies, it’s opened up to all students planning to attend CCAC,” guidance counselor Mr. Matthew Anselmino said.
Last year the scholarship sponsor contacted the school and told the school that two students had applied. Miller contacted five students that she knew could qualify for the scholarship and gave them applications. None of those students applied for it.
The Louise Salinger scholarship for fashion students also often gets a small number of applicants.
“People don’t want to commit their time to the scholarships because some require more effort than others,” Miller said.
Miller believes students don’t apply because they believe they won’t be approved or be awarded the scholarship. In reality, if a student had been meet all the criteria and no other students applied then the student might have gotten it.
When filling out applications, students need to consider other things than just criteria though. They need to decide which ones to apply for.
“I say as apply to as many as you can and qualify for. That can be overwhelming because there are a lot,” Miller said.
Students should always take their time when filling out the applications and make sure the application is well done and neat. Before turning in the application, an applicant should always make sure that his or her application includes everything that the scholarship asks for, like references or the reviewers of the scholarship would consider the application incomplete. Students should not just look at the how much a scholarship offers, because usually the ones worth less are easier to complete.
Scholarships provide help for students when it comes time to pay for college. Sometimes, the money the scholarship gives out is not a large amount, but that doesn’t mean that the scholarship isn’t worth the time it takes to fill out an application.
Online courses are great for self-motivated individuals who want to learn new skills and advance their careers without dropping their commitment to their job and/or family. Getting education online will also save you tons of money since you’ll avoid having to pony up even a fraction of the 10-30 thousand dollars required on average for a traditional education.