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Technology for Teaching

  • Match technology with purpose
    Make sure you begin with the end in mind by clarifying the learning outcome for which you want to use the technology. This will increase the likelihood of using technology in effective ways rather than just hopping on the technology band wagon.
  • Practice in the room where you will be teaching or presenting
    Every room is different. Know how to connect your computer or use the computer that's provided in the room. When ordering equipment, be familiar with the terminology so you can place your order clearly and correctly. Know the number for A-V Scheduling, or the Itap help desk so you can get help on the spot when you need it. Or, keep your cell phone with you so you can call a colleague who's knowledgeable and savvy about the equipment.
  • Have an alternative plan
    Even with your best preparation technology can fail you unexpectedly. You can check the overhead prior to class and have it work, just to experience it fail in the middle of the class. Be prepared to teach your lesson without the technology if needs be. In other words, how would you teach the lesson if you couldn't use your PowerPoint presentation?
  • Make sure students can see it
    Lettering and visuals must be read easily if they are going to contribute to learning. You must ensure legibility because a visual cannot begin to do its job unless all viewers can see the words and images. A guideline for a size of lettering is to make lowercase letters 1/2 inch high for each 10 feet of viewer distance. This means, for example, that to be legible to a student seated in the last seat of a 30-foot-long classroom the lettering would have to be at least 1and 1/2 inches in height.
    Details of visuals and diagrams also must be legible to all students. Before using any media, walk to the back of your classroom where the students furthest from the front will be seated. Be sure you can see the lettering and visuals on the board, PowerPoint slides, or overhead transparencies.
    Making sure that students can see also involves not obstructing their view with your own body, choosing the right kind of lighting in the room, and using contrasting colors for text and background of the visuals.
  • Avoid information overload
    Resist the temptation of putting everything you know into one slide. Rather, use key words and fill in the missing information verbally. This not only spares students from visual and cognitive overload but also encourages them to take notes (which is an extremely effective learning technique) to fill in the missing parts.
  • Avoid the extraneous
    One of the challenges in using technology is to keep the main thing the main thing. With all the many options available through technology, it is easy to get carried away with including fancy details and effects. However, the inclusion of unrelated details might actually hinder rather than help learning because of providing distraction rather than support for the material to be learned by the students.