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Teaching Tips

6 Tips for Selecting Appropriate Technologies for your Teaching Sessions

By Janet Corral, PhD

When we want to make teaching “new” and “fresh,” technology often appears as an attractive option to integrate into our lessons, lectures and workshops. However, technology is not a neutral addition to any educational event.

Before you invest heavily, here are six tips for judiciously appraising technologies for learning:

  1. Write down your learning goals. Yes! The start of all technology selection processes begins with (re)identifying the learning outcomes you are trying to achieve. This helps you focus on the educational reasons for the technology, and it helps you to separate the real tools from the “noise” in the steps that follow.
  2. Identify why you want to use technology and who will use it. Sometimes we are drawn to use technology as it appears to be an “easy win” or “fun” or “trendy at other schools and we want to be like them.” Your true motivation should be because the technology adds value to the learning and teaching process. Check back with what your answers were in Tip #1. Where might there be alignment, and where is there divergence?
  3. Know your timeline and budget. Technology will cost time and money, whether it’s making and editing a video with your own equipment or hiring a professional team to create one. Identifying needs, cost and the timeline will help you keep the project’s scope manageable while achieving your ultimate goal: a great teaching and learning experience.
  4. Separate technology used for administrative purposes from technology used for learning purposes. Technology generally falls into one of three categories: administrative support; vehicle for delivering education; or both. Some technology trends appear to be technology when they are really pedagogy: for example, the idea of flipped classroom, which can be implemented with technology—or by assigning readings before class.
  5. Engage your medical educational technology team. These experts can guide you regarding resources that already exist or are available to accomplish your goals. They can save you time, money and possible frustration, if you engage them early in the process.
  6. If tools do not exist on campus already, contrast comparable products. Do a quick Internet search of the technology in question, to find 2-5 comparable products. Contrast the features they offer, their cost and their availability (i.e., timeline for order and delivery) with your learning goals and budget. Remember Tip 5: by engaging the medical education team, they can also inform you about steps needed to implement the technology, and compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and University of Colorado purchasing protocols.

Technology has the potential to markedly enhance the learning experience for both teachers and learners. Staying focused on the educational goals throughout the technology selection process will help you achieve success.