The most popular article on eCampus News is a surprising one to the editors: “6 apps that block social media distractions.” This story, which seemed a bit counter-intuitive for us to write (being a tech-cheerleading publication in nature), has held the top spot by a massive margin for almost three years now; which had the editors considering the question, “Are there technologies that should simply be avoided in the college classroom?”
Movie Clip of One Technology Exasperation:
Of course, the editors then had to ponder what would make a technology easier to avoid than try to implement, and came up with a list of broad technologies and technology trends that either A) caused, rather than eased, more problems and concerns in the classroom, and/or B) were not evolved enough to make an actual difference in teaching or learning.
And, not wanting to simply talk technology trash without offering some useful information, the editors then came up with the technology options that may be better suited for the intended classroom task.
See any technologies you believe should be avoided that didn’t make the list? Be sure to leave your comments in the section below.
5 Technologies to Avoid in the College Classroom
1. Social Media: This was the easiest to choose, thanks to our reigning king of articles mentioned above. Though social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for informal, personal use, most of education still has problems implementing these larger social media platforms for meaningful teaching and learning without running into privacy, security and cyberbullying headaches.
Better Option? Course-created forums. Many technology-savvy educators have deduced that perhaps the best way to mitigate social media distractions while still allowing for collaboration and discussion is to use a course or department-specific forum or platform. In fact, according to EDUCAUSE, one of the core functions of the post-LMS era is to use a “next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE)” that “supports collaboration at multiple levels and make it easy to move between private and public digital spaces. The NGDLE must also include a requirement to move past a “walled garden” approach to locking down a course’s LMS, and instead enable a learning community to make choices about what parts are public and what parts are private.”
Outside of cloud-based or platform-enabled communication spaces, some apps even allow for project and assignment-only collaboration and organization, such as Slack (which Stanford uses for team communication and work management) and Trello (a project management app). Both are available for Android, as well.
2. Gaming: There’s a lot to be said for gaming in specific areas of education, like for learning how to code or applying mathematical concepts to real-life technology. In fact, eCampus News recently wrote an article touting these benefits and describing how institutions like MIT are effectively using gaming for learning with great results. However, for the average non-STEM heavy course, gaming is still in its research infancy as to whether or not it provides any major benefits to learning. Compound this with the unfortunate reality that most gaming is still male-centric, doesn’t usually allow for multi-player experiences, and is new to many educators, the time it takes to vet and properly implement gaming may be more of a hassle than it’s worth.
Better Option? Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR). With AR or VR, educators can still boost student engagement while incorporating some of the best characteristics of visual technology: interaction and visual learning. With AR and VR, teachers can help students better understand abstract or difficult concepts, take learning outside the classroom while still incorporating technology, and strengthen emotional engagement in course material–all while incorporating the traditional gaming characteristics of play and humor. Read more about AR in higher education here. Read more about VR in higher education here, as well as how institutions are funding VR here.