Archive

Archive for September, 2010

Considering technology in pedagogy

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

One of the things that has taken getting used to for me as I teach my course this semester is the increased use of technology as teaching tools. Whether it is an ELMO document camera (sometimes I think the little red guy might be more useful), Power Point, Blackboard, or clickers (I am still trying to figure these out), technology is playing an increasing role in today’s college classroom. This is a significant departure from what I knew as an undergraduate student at Illinois College. To my recollection, only four of my classes ever used some type of technology beyond a VHS or DVD player. One was chemistry, where we used some Power Point, while in my macroeconomics class we used the new smart classroom technology (this was new stuff in ’03) to draw graphs. The most logical class for using technology was my computer science class on visual basic, where we simply used the projector to view the program we were discussing, while my statistics class used the projector so we could follow the instructor on Excel, while we worked on it in the computer lab the class was held in. All my classes in the arts and humanities were traditional with no use of technology, just the professor lecturing and the board for key terms.

I know that my experience is similar to most faculty in our department, as many of us are at varying stages of accepting and incorporating such tools into our teaching. While many departments in the academy are embracing new technology, history is behind the curve. I believe a lot of this has to do with most of us learning in the traditional lecture style with little to no reliance on such tools. The result is that we are not used to using such technology and are hesitant to try it because of unfamiliarity. I have heard great arguments for using technology, as well as frustrations over it, but I will at least give technology a try. Though it involves a bit more work on my part, I do hope that using technological tools helps my students get a better experience from my course and enhances the accessibility of my lectures. In closing, I would love to hear about your experiences with technology and teaching, the good and bad, to gain a better understanding of how such tools are used in today’s classroom, so please comment and share.

Advertisements

Reflections on the start of the semester and teaching

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it is good to be back in the game again. I know the content has been lacking for a long time, but with summer, there’s not much to write about. I am in the classroom this fall, teaching a section of History 103, the United States to 1877, as well as taking a readings course on the Anglo-Atlantic World, and a research seminar. In addition to that, I am still blogging and reviewing books, and have begun a foray into Civil War reenacting. My colleague Stuart Lawrence and I began a Civil War Round Table in April and are trying to get it off the ground. Needless to say, I am busy.

Having done a couple lectures so far, I am slowly starting to get into a nice groove. The one thing I still have trouble with is using Power Point for my lectures, as none of my professors at Illinois College used it. Despite that, the students are a great group and seem attentive. I am starting to get them to come out of their shells and talk in class a little more. It seems that they are getting what I am presenting in lecture. I am trying to use a little humor to get them to open up with varying success.

I will say that the biggest challenge is preparing for each class, as I always have in the back in my mind the issue of whether or not I am presenting the material right and to an appropriate level. I have gotten some positive feedback from a couple students on the textbook I chose. The class is also reading Joseph Plumb Martin’s memoir as well, which I hope they enjoy and will gain something from reading it.

Overall, I am finding teaching rewarding and look forward to working with and getting to know the students. I hope to get posting here more in the coming weeks, as I am back in the groove and will possibly have some fellow doctoral students from the department involved as well to broaden the view. Until next time, keep researching and working.