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An Effective Use Of Technology In The Classroom

I’m one of three librarians at Champlain College teaching 21 sections of our CORE-210 classes. I have finished five so far and have five to go. In this session we are talking about plagiarism, and more broadly, the ethical use of information. Often sessions on plagiarism can be pretty boring and come off as preachy or authoritarian; but this session, with the help of some technology, elicits thoughtful discussion and is now probably my favorite session.

The technologies that we are using are a wiki,YouTube videos, and a digital projector (new school) and a white/blackboard and post it notes (old school). The videos that we show are examples of possible instances of plagiarism or possible unethical uses of information. After showing an example of possible plagiarism we draw a continuum on the board with one side being completely ethical and the other being completely unethical. Students then have to decide where they feel this situation falls on the continuum by placing a post it somewhere along it and then justifying their answer.

I see this as a perfect example of technology working well in accomplishing an educational goal. It works for several reasons:

  • The technology isn’t the focus – We are not highlighting a database or our OPAC. We’re not teaching them a technology. The technology is an afterthought. We’re using a wiki, but simply as a place to embed multiple videos. We’re using videos, but thoughtfully. They’re not just haphazardly thrown in. We are using these technologies in the way they should be used – as tools. When you forget you are using technology is usually the time when it is most effective.
  • A mix of old and new – We have some variety in the technology that we use. We don’t limit ourselves to only new shiny technology, nor do we eschew the new. We use the correct tools at the correct times. Using post its and the blackboard can be just as effective (if not more) than showing a video.
  • Physical element – Having a student write their reasoning on a post it and then physically walk up to the board and place it somewhere works well pedagogically. It helps people who are¬†kinesthetic¬†learners. It also makes students commit to a position and then justify their reasoning behind it. They can’t hide. They have to put their brains on the board so others can see them. Humans are physical beings and because of this we need more than just a screen. We need to touch things, move, and interact with the real world.

This session works really well because it has variety, a physical element and uses technology in a purposeful way. When the teaching librarians here are designing information literacy sessions in the future I want to remember the lessons that we have learned from this CORE-210 session.

Andy Burkhardt

5 Comments

  1. I really love this post. I might have to use and adapt some of these ideas. I’ve found some of my favorite instruction was when I was introducing topic ideas and research questions to students and we used magnet clips on the white/black board with the country names and facts/categories on old hanging files (with correct answers inside) for a simple Price-Is-Right-esque matching game. I never expected to get the level of engagement I did! I ended up having to skip some video watching to accommodate their interest in the low-tech activity.

  2. Feel free to use whatever. Low tech sometimes works great. Physical learning helps me so much. I know at Immersion they had us move into different quadrants for our learning styles and the physical nature of being there in space instead of just looking at it on a screen or sheet of paper made the lesson much more personal.

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