My teaching philosophy and practices are guided by the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). According UDL, educators afford students with multiple means of representation, multiple means of engagement, and multiple means of expression at the onset of a course (Maguire, Scott, & Shaw, 2006). Multiple means of representation of course content are offered to students using a variety of methods. Lectures, in combination with slides and videos, are uploaded through MOODLE for student access. Where appropriate, I infuse the use of iPad2 applications, as well as podcast lectures. I foster multiple means of engagement by way of written projects, oral presentations, interactive lab assignments, case study reviews, internet searches for valid information, and reaction pieces. I make concerted efforts to provide students with opportunities for multiple means of expression, via in class contributions, meetings, exchanging emails, and posting information through MOODLE. It is my belief that I essentially have a classroom without walls, using traditional methods of student interaction combined with the use of technology for communication (e.g., email and MOODLE). Of all these teaching techniques, the one I am most passionate about is the incorporation of technology into the classroom.
I have recently identified one particular course to pilot two new (personal) technology initiatives (i.e., Speech 351: Survey of Speech Disorders). This course was a good candidate to pilot novel technology methods, as it is dense with both content and clinical application. In this class, I have been integrating the use of an iPad2, as well as recording class lectures using the Ederol recorder (i.e., a high powered recording device with a microphone). I have been able to mirror images on the iPad2 using a VGA cable paired with SmartBoard technology, to demonstrate for students the use of applications (“apps”) that are relevant to coursework.”. Using the Ederol recorder, I have been able to podcast the course content, in the form of recorded lecture. Thus far, using these forms of technology has maintained student interest and motivation, while fostering learning of curriculum. I plan on continuing to use these methods for this course, and possibly generalize these technology skills to other courses in the future.
As a point of reflection, I surveyed the students at the end of the semester regarding these new initiatives. At the end of the course (Speech 351), I asked the students to provide me with feedback on these two technological applications and how they pertained to the class, as follows:
For question number 1, 100% of students responded favorably (n = 13). Examples of responses include but are not limited to, “This was a great addition to the class – very relevant to today’s generation,” and “Loved it! Technology is changing and kids like to be interactive.”
For question number 2, 100% of students responded favorably. Examples of responses included but were not limited to, “Loved them! Extremely helpful when studying since there is a lot of information to cover in class,” “Very helpful. I burned them to CDs and played them in my car.”
For my graduate level online course (673: Assessment and Intervention/Autism Spectrum Disorders), I created multimedia presentations using Adobe Connect. They were then uploaded to iTunes University, and available for download, similar to the aforementioned podcasts. In addition to the presentations, I created PDFs of the transcripts of these presentations, so that students may benefit from the information in both the auditory and written domains. At the end of the course, I asked students for specific feedback on these multimedia presentation methods as well. Questions and responses are as follows:
For question number 3, 60% responded that access to the multimedia presentations enhanced acquisition to course content, 20% responded that the presentations did not assist in grasping the material, and 20% responded that the presentations neither helped, nor hurt their progress in the course (n=15).
For question number 4, 73% responded that the printable versions of Powerpoints facilitated acquisition, 20% reported using the written transcripts instead of the multimedia presentations, and 6% reported they did not use them at all.
While the feedback in 673 was not as uniform as in 351, the use of technology remained favorable. The more diverse responses in 673 remind me that, while using technology might be interesting, UDL must always be paramount. I will continue to post PowerPoint slides, audio files, and transcripts of these files to afford my students multiple means of expression, representation, and engagement.
In my experience as a relatively new faculty member, incorporation of technology has been an ongoing process, requiring modification, upgrading, and keeping current with software updates. Using technology for delivery of course content and learning activities has had a positive impact on my ability to teach students. My students have shared my enthusiasm for the coursework. Thus far, incorporating technology in the classroom has been an adventure, and (I hope) my students are all the better for it!