Faculty-developed tools that bend the curve on student engagement

The success with student learning thanks to mobile computing, coupled with faculty-developed, cloud-based tools means that high tech and great teaching aren’t necessarily at odds.

faculty-technology-toolsThree years ago, several colleagues at the University of Ottawa made a push to ban the use of laptops in the classroom, citing concerns that students were not engaged during class. They’re not alone. There has been a decade-long debate taking place at institutions over whether there should be rules in place to govern the use of laptops and smartphones in class.

What’s fascinating is the very technology that enables today’s students’ constant state of inattention can be an instructor’s best tool in engaging students in and beyond the classroom.

Published in 1987, The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education urge active learning: regular interaction between students and faculty, collaboration among students, prompt feedback, high expectations, and multi-modal learning.

Early in my teaching career, active learning was relatively easy to implement. Small classes made it possible to incorporate case-based teaching, and facilitate class discussion. Today, with large lectures of 300 or 400 students, fidelity to that model is increasingly difficult.

(Next page: The possibilities created by faculty-powered tools)