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Teaching and Learning with Technology

by Doug Jackson, Associate Vice President
Lucinda Parker, Project & Policy Manager

There is no doubt technology is changing the way faculty teach as well as the way students learn.  But questions remain.  Technology offers the promise of enhancing access, but is also blamed for sometimes detracting from learning.  While learning technologies allow us to provide additional access and capacity for students, how and when and where should we use it?  Technology can make us more efficient and thus be a partial answer to budget cuts, but how do we maintain quality as we cut costs?  As a faculty member, how do I get started with using technologies and how do I effectively determine what to use and what not to use?  No matter how you may feel about these questions, most of us can agree that students are demanding more access to technology for learning and that we want them to learn more efficiently and effectively.  So what kinds of technologies and tools are we using here at Sac state to help them?

Without question, incoming students are bringing new lifestyles that include new ways of interacting with information, new expectations and preferences for acquiring knowledge through “active learning,” more use of online media and multi-media, and more work and family obligations that steal their time.  Many students also have unique styles of learning which can be greatly facilitated through technology.  Lastly, we can use students’ preference for social networking technology to extend personal interactions and learning activities far beyond classroom spaces.

Services To Support Faculty

Three service units at Sac State work together to support faculty and student use of technologies both inside and outside the classroom.  Those units are: 1) The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL); 2) Academic Technology and Creative Services (ATCS), and 3) the Information Resources and Technology division itself.  The CTL works closely with faculty on pedagogical concepts such as lecture instruction, collaborative learning, and effective course preparation (to just hit some highlights).  ATCS offers training and support on the most used technology tools supporting instruction (the learning management system SacCT), and also supports all aspects of e-learning and provides training in the use of common software applications.  IRT provides direct support for classroom teaching, offers a comprehensive Service Desk and Student Technology Center, and provides general support for all aspects of technology use on campus (e.g. wireless networking).  All three units work together to provide the faculty a level of support which maximizes the opportunity for success in teaching and learning.

Opportunities for Hybrid Courses and Complementary Technology Tools

Listed below are several tools and/or technologies that are available at Sac State, providing support for faculty and students and  increasing the opportunities for utilization in academic endeavors, both within the classroom and outside.

  • Wireless networking throughout campus to help students study more effectively
  • SacCT to help faculty organize their course materials, and to allow students  to review instructional materials more efficiently and effectively and utilize tests and quizzes with built-in feedback
  • SacCT Video, audio, and linked library sources to vary how content is presented and applied  (various learning styles)
  • Respondus  (a plug-in for SacCT) to drill students on basic concepts
  • Library on-line resources and Locus to give students quick access to many databases and other library resources
  • Online tools to teach concepts that are difficult to convey with words or on a whiteboard  (example:  phonetics practice using Elluminate)
  • Email and the SacCT student portal to help students interact with faculty, classmates and teammates more effectively
  • Email to support real-world learning experiences  communicating with native speakers for language students
  • Shared online work spaces to give students the experience of working collaboratively  (SacCT, shared class file space)
  • StudyMate and Toolbook to provide skill-building exercises and tutorials
  • PowerPoint to support lectures

Examples of ways the above information technology tools can be used by faculty to enhance learning include:

  • Monitor student study interactions to determine which materials are most effective (or ineffective?)
  • Save time on grading and course administration
  • Decrease time / resources spent on copying handouts, grading exercises and quizzes
  • Automate administration of tests and quizzes
  • Provide study materials for use outside the classroom, allowing time for higher level teaching activities in class.

These are just a handful of the large number of opportunities that technology provides to faculty. Of course, it is important to remember that everyone should use technology to facilitate solving educational problems and not use technology just for its own sake.

If you have comments or feedback on teaching with technology, please send them to IRTFeedback@csus.edu

Do you have feedback for IRT? Email us at irtfeedback@csus.edu