DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

The first time I thought about educational technology as a category, it went poorly. I had flown out for a job interview as an assistant professor of humanities at York University. One of my interviewers asked me how I used technology in the classroom. I sputtered and gave what I remember as an incoherent reply.

 

I would forgive my interviewers for thinking I was a technological incompetent. But the reason for my stumble was the exact opposite: teaching with digital technology was something I did so naturally that I had never thought about it as a specific category. Thinking of examples of how I used technology in the classroom felt like thinking of examples of how I used the word "up" in the classroom: I do it all the time, but I couldn't give you a list. 

 

Now, of course, I'm in the business of thinking about how to use technology in the classroom. So now it's easy to say that in every class I ever taught as a professor, I had students post comments about the required reading in the online discussion forums of whatever LMS was available. (Well, except for one semester where the school's LMS was so bad as to be unusable, and I had them email me their comments instead.) It was a poke to ensure students actually did the reading; it got them thinking actively with the reading instead of trying to absorb it passively; it allowed them to engage each other and begin class discussion before the class even began; and it allowed me to see what they were thinking so I would know where to begin in-class discussion. 

 

I distributed primary texts and articles online via the LMS where possible, saving the students money and time. I've always stored my grades electronically, first on a spreadsheet and then in the LMS. In my final year I found grading rubrics a great way of clarifying my expectations to students. I also used presentation software (Keynote) as a way of adding multimedia to my classes, though I'm well aware that such software can hamper presentation when wrongly used. I've also had students use social media to enhance their collaboration, having them create wikis and use Facebook for communities of practice.

 

As a TA, I'm proud to have been a pioneer in Michael Sandel's magnificent Justice course. The very first year that Sandel experimented with making the course available to distance students, he trusted me to hold the sections that were videotaped for online learners. That online course has now become one of the better-known offerings on edX

 

 

(Yes, that's me in the blue shirt, and yes, that's a student dressed as Spider-Man in the front. The Justice course was a favourite site for student pranks. This picture - a still from the online version of Justice - was actually the subject of a long thread on Reddit.) 

 

I experimented with a variety of technological tools to enhance my course in Indian philosophy, including blogs and collaborative research through Google Drive. I collected the students' final papers on a Google Site (with their permission) for all to see. I will be presenting on this classroom experience at 2015's American Academy of Religion conference in Atlanta.

 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.