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The Future of Educational Technology?

Posted by on Monday, April 23, 2012 in News.

by CFT Director Derek Bruff

I’m currently serving on a committee tasked by the Chancellor to explore how the university can use digital technologies, particularly social media, to enhance our teaching, research, and service missions. Each committee member is taking a turn to share the current technology landscape at Vanderbilt as s/he sees it. My turn to share the CFT’s perspective came around last week.

Here’s the Prezi I used for my presentation. You can click the forward arrow to move through the Prezi one step at a time, or use your mouse to pan and zoom freely around the Prezi.

Here are a few of the ideas and perspectives I shared with the committee:

  • As a center, we get to interact with faculty who are innovators in the area of educational technology, like Corbette Doyle, senior lecturer in Leadership, Policy, & Organizations, who shared her use of social media and classroom responses systems here on the blog last year. We’re also hosting a series of conversations with faculty who teach using course blogs in which students share their writing and learning with each other and the wider world.
  • That said, our “PowerPoint Makeover Clinics” are some of our more popular workshops, indicating a need among faculty for assistance with what is perhaps less-cutting-edge technology. I think it’s important that the committee’s recommendations take into account the many faculty we have here who are open to using new technologies, but aren’t as comfortable jumping in with both feet as some of our early adopters. (See this post on my personal blog for more thoughts on this topic, including some thoughts on the pace of change in higher ed.)
  • I quoted one of our 25th Anniversary symposium speakers, Cynthia Paschal, associate professor of biomedical engineering, who said at that event, “Our technology use reflects our values, and, here at Vanderbilt, we value community.” I’m interested in the committee exploring ways that we can use technology to enhance the community here at Vanderbilt, including the face-to-face community.
  • I shared a few frameworks for thinking about how technology can be used to enhance teaching and learning, including the notions of social pedagogies, students-as-producers, and integrative learning. For examples of technologies that support these approaches to teaching, see my Prezi above or this blog post over on my personal blog.

We had a rich discussion at the committee meeting that day, with good questions raised about the “value added” of particular technologies, best practices for using particular technologies, and the importance of identifying what Vanderbilt uniquely offers. See this recap for a bit more on these questions.

I’ll leave you with the following statement from Dan Morrison, one of our graduate teaching fellows who is also assisting the committee. It’s powerful.

“Engaging students in important, unstructured problems and working with them to find solutions is probably the key to Vanderbilt’s success as a learning institution.”

How do you see technology enhancing the teaching mission of the university? Should technology change how or what we teach at Vanderbilt?

Image: “Choices,” by me, Flickr (CC)

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