By Anitra Cottledge
Somehow mid-July has creeped up on us, and I am beginning to think about teaching in the fall, and useful ways to integrate technology into my course curriculum. This is a conversation that I’ve been having with a number of people; I even had one conversation recently where a group of people contemplated the feasibility of building an entire curriculum around TED talks. (What do you think? Do you think that could work?)
TED talks and their ubiquitous awesomeness aside, I am wondering about the utility of having some sort of technology policy in an age of smartphones, iPads and tablets. I have a faculty acquaintance who is real serious about the use of technology during class. For them, the act of Student A texting during class is both rude and akin to that student flushing their discussion/participation points for that day down the toilet. How can one participate in a class discussion if they’re playing Candy Crush Saga on their iPad?
I get that approach and am in favor of stating expectations around technology usage upfront and in the syllabus. The sticky wicket is, how do you formulate a tech policy that allows for some use of technology that may help students engage with a topic or idea? What if you want the whole class to experiment with Twitter during class time? What if you have a great idea for students using Facebook as a means of sociopolitical engagement?
Of course, engaging in some of these experiments during class time comes with an assumption that every student has access to the tools (i.e., phone, laptop, etc.) that will enable them to participate and/or that you have access to the resources that will allow you to provide those tools to everyone. There’s ways around this, of course, and possibilities that take into consideration both accessibility and creativity.
So, to those of us who teach, how do you manage all of these issues? Do you have a technology policy? I would love to hear your ideas and reflections in the comments.