Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teaching Tip - Adding New Technologies

Adding new technologies may enhance how online and face-to-face courses are delivered, but they also add a “shadow curriculum.” Essentially, students have the cognitive demand of understanding the new technology as they learn the course content. Similarly, faculty must now provide student support and instruction for that technology along with the course content.

Bob Andersen, Director of Instructional Technology at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, says, “Sometimes learning how to blog or use Twitter, Voice Thread, or a webcam becomes challenging and starts to take time away from the learning objectives of the course.” In the Online Cl@ssroom, Andersen provides some strategies for minimizing the negative effects of this shadow curriculum while getting the full benefit of adding the educational technology.

Anderson notes four important tools in making new technology work for students:


Don’t assume that expertise in one technology easily transfers to another, so carefully consider your options. Focus on your pedagogical reasons for selecting a technology then become comfortable with using it yourself before introducing it to students.

Sequencing and Scaffolding

Don’t throw students into the most advanced technology right away. Start simple and move to more advanced skills throughout the term. If you have a large goal in mind (e.g., having students create a portfolio or ebook as a project), introduce the technology early, then build on those skills throughout the semester.


When you introduce students to the technology, clearly explain about why that technology is important to their learning goals, as well as their future careers. Andersen emphasizes that instructors “need to be intentional” and “not simply slip in” new technologies. Sell students on the value of the technology in their lives.


In a low-stakes setting, introduce students to how the technology actually works. Provide face-to-face and online orientation to the technological skills they will be using in the course. Have resources available for students to review at their own pace.

For more great ideas about online teaching and adding technology to the classroom, visit the CTE in TLC 324, have a cup of coffee, and read the most recent issue of the Online Cl@ssroom.