Top Technologies for Integrating Online Instruction

Top Technologies for Integrating Online Instruction

Lawrence A. Tomei (Robert Morris University, USA)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/ijopcd.2011010102
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Online learning is the epitome of applied technology and should be integrated into as many levels of online curriculum as possible. To prepare students for the future, teachers must seize every opportunity to infuse the technologies their students will be using whenever possible. Most importantly, teachers must know what works best in an online classroom situation, i.e., podcasting, interactive whiteboards, blogs, wikis, social networking, virtual classrooms, and others. In this regard, this paper reviews specific technology-based tools that have demonstrated a rapid implementation in higher education in general and online learning specifically. In addition, it explores best practices that lead to the best use of these tools in the virtual classroom. Links to online videos demonstrating each technology are provided and an emphasis is placed on many real-world examples of how technology has already improved student learning. This paper calls for greater inclusion of specific technologies by teachers in the online classroom.
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With little fear of contradiction, technology has become ubiquitous, touching almost every aspect of teaching and learning. Faculties at all levels of teaching continue to integrate technology into online and traditional classroom learning. Still others are just beginning to explore the true potential that various technologies offer for increasing student learning outcomes. When properly applied along with sound course development principles, technology aids in the acquisition of skills needed for students to survive in the complex, highly technological information-based economy of the 21st century.

Integrating technology into classroom instruction encompasses more than teaching basic computer literacies or using technology for collaboration and decision-making. In the Taxonomy for the Technology Domain (Tomei, 2005), true integration of technology does not occur until the fifth level of the hierarchy (Figure 1). Until then, teachers must be content to identify, collect, and apply technology, unaltered, to their classroom situations.

Figure 1.

Taxonomy for the technology domain


True technology integration occurs most often in support of four key components of student learning: active engagement, group interaction, feedback, and replication of real-world situations. Certain technologies, it has been found, are more likely than others to support well-conceived curricular goals.

Teaching online utilizes a different pedagogical skill set, involves instructors who are arguably more conscious of their teaching strategies, and demands teachers who overtly consider a broader range of technologies. Most often, pedagogical considerations must vary in order to make the online teaching/learning experience a positive one. So much so, that “pedagogy” may no longer be considered an appropriate label for instructive strategies that focus on the best methods for teaching a particular category of students. In its most primitive form, “pedagogy” (from the word “peda,”) applies to the teaching of children. Malcolm Knowles (2005) found it necessary to distinguish teaching of adults and coined the word “andragogy.” In this paper, the author is proposing a new word to describe teaching with technology, “technogogy.”

Chickering and Gamson (1991) provide seven principles for effective teaching practice that apply to both traditional in-class instruction and online instruction. These principles will serve as the basis for the study and a guide for developing technology-rich materials and learning exercises for online instruction. The principles are:

  • Encourage communication and collaboration between students and faculty

  • Develop group work and interpersonal cooperation among students

  • Encourage active learning

  • Ensure prompt feedback from instructor to student

  • Expand quality and quantity of time on task

  • Convey high expectations for student learning outcomes

  • Value diverse talents and different strategies for learning.

This paper explores issues and concerns relating to the pedagogical (or more correctly, technogogical) uses of certain new technologies for learning across the curriculum – particularly online learning. Within the classification of technology proposed by the Taxonomy, there is a need to move beyond acquisition of tools (i.e., literacy), their use for communication (i.e., collaboration) and decision-making if teachers and students are to profit from greater access to technology. This report calls for greater inclusion of specific technologies by teachers in the online classroom and examines the most appropriate principles for effective teaching practice that apply.

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