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Incorporating technology into a pre-existing course design

A book review by Itiya Aneece, PhD student in Environmental Sciences and Tomorrow’s Professor Today Alumna

Itiya Aneece

Have you ever been stuck in a huge lecture hall and thought- this topic has so much potential and would be so interesting if only… ? Of course, technology is not the only answer to enhancing such a lecture; the speaker must be able and willing to engage the audience. However, given the ability and desire to do so, there are several tools he/she can use to transform such a static and anonymity-promoting space into one that encourages active participation.

Student Response Systems, aka Clickers, have been used in large lecture halls for years to enhance participation, assess student learning instantaneously, and encourage critical thinking. Simply incorporating these Clickers into the classroom is not going to enhance learning and there is much debate about the best way to encourage student use of the Clickers and assess the impacts of this technology. Successful implementation on this technology depends on various aspects of the students and the quality of the activities for which the Clickers are used (Trees and Jackson, 2007). However, Vaterlous et al. (2012) found an increase in student perception of confidence, attention, retention and learning. Students also perceived more effective learning when reviewing with clickers in addition to slides and verbal review than with slideshow presentation and verbal review alone; test scores reflected this increased effectiveness in learning.

Yet another example of student response systems is the classroom communication technology (CCT) that can be connected to graphing calculators in order to send and receive documents from students and to project student work for large-group discussions (Case and Pape 2013). Such technology has been shown to increase student engagement in their learning and be an effective way of pacing the class with regular assessments.

Both of these examples can be implemented easily into a classroom at low costs (especially if graphing calculators or phones are used as clickers). Bonnstetter and VanOverbeke (2011) list several other simple and cost-effective ways to incorporate technology and engage student in learning different types of skills (see table below).


Skill Technology Activity Resources
Recall PowerPoint Games California State University Northridge
Collaboration Social networking sites Group projects Ning Mode Media, Delicious
Comprehension Blogs, tweets, mind mapping tools Discussion and peer-teaching Cmap, Freemind
Application Interactive applets Simulations National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Analysis Venn Diagram software Comparing and contrasting Gliffy
Evaluation Blogs or Webquests Quality assessment Edublogs, Information Today
Creativity Project creation software Making videos, photo collages, or presentation Videospin, Picasa, Prezi



Bonnstetter, R. and D. VanOverbeke. 2011. Turn up the H.E.A.T.: Give your students the HOTS they need. In M. Koehler & P. Mishra (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2011: 3143-3148. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Case, E. and S.J. Pape. 2013. Struggles and successes implementing classroom communication technology in a college pre-calculus course. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 32 (1): 5-24.

Trees, A.R., and M.H. Jackson. 2007. The learning environment in clicker classrooms: student processes of learning and involvement in large university-level courses using student response systems. Learning, Media and Technology. 32 (1): 21-40.

Vaterlaus, J.M., Beckert, T.E., Fauth, E.B., and B. Teemant. 2012. An examination of the influence of Clicker technology on college student involvement and recall. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 24(3): 293-300.

Itiya Aneece is pursuing a PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. She has taught the Fundamentals of Ecology lab since the Fall of 2011, has recently completed the Tomorrow’s Professor Today program, and enjoys exploring new ways to encourage learning.



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