Teaching with Technology Topics - Enhancing Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Teaching with Technology

In addition to keeping abreast of the general landscape of educational technology, the Office of Technology for Education (OTE) and the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence collects, synthesizes and summaries examples and research on teaching with technology in order to identify successful models of use. Current topics include:

Information Visualization Tools

The effective use of any technology in teaching requires thoughtful consideration and planning. In this section, you’ll learn the answers to these questions:

What are information visualization tools?

The term “information visualization tools” refers to a broad range of digital tools and resources that allow users to view, analyze, manipulate, and/or communicate complex information, such as historical, spatial, and statistical data. Information visualization tools range from freely available tools that produce simple visual representations of small data sets to proprietary tools that can manipulate complex data.

What learning objectives can be achieved with particular tools?

Instructors incorporate information visualization tools into their teaching for different reasons. If the tool is widely used in professional practice, teaching students how to use it may be a practical skill in itself and even the focus of an entire course. Instructors may also enlist information visualization tools to accomplish other learning objectives. These range from helping students analyze the merits and potential uses of visual representations created by others to asking students to develop visual representations of their own.

How do I know if a particular tool is appropriate for my course?

Before adopting an information visualization tool, ask yourself whether it supports your learning objectives for the course and whether it is feasible and appropriate given your students, constraints, and context.

What are the tradeoffs of using the tool in my course?

The adoption of any tool entails tradeoffs. Instructors will assess tradeoffs differently, depending on their objectives for student learning and standard practices in their professions, but here are some potential tradeoffs to using information visualization tools.

What are some possible pitfalls — and strategies to mitigate them?

Information visualization tools can be powerful teaching resources, but they will not enhance learning automatically. Here are some potential pitfalls to keep in mind, along with some strategies for addressing them.

How can I assess student learning and performance?

Assessing an assignment that involves information visualization tools is no different from assessing student learning in any other context. It requires that you clearly identify measurable, student-centered learning objectives (e.g., students will be able to map publicly available demographic data and explain the limitations of that data) and assess students’ performance in relation to those objectives.

There are many information visualization tools that you can explore. Contact us if you’d like help or suggestions.

Teaching With Technology White Papers

The purpose of the Teaching With Technology White Paper series is to provide Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff access to high-quality, research-based information with regard to a given classroom technology. These papers offer a general overview of the technology topic, summarize findings from available assessments and evaluations, and give direction toward further reading and online resources.

This series does not introduce original research findings from technology assessments or evaluations conducted at the Office of Technology for Education and/or Carnegie Mellon University. The papers serve as literature reviews, intended to provide scholarly integration and synthesis of the most sound and comprehensive studies documented at the time of publication.

Collaboration Tools pdf

The landscape of technology that can be used to support project-based collaborative learning is vast and varied. Educators can benefit from a more detailed and disaggregated view of what tools are available, and how they can be used most effectively in support of specific teaching and learning goals.

In this paper, we offer a working model of the collaborative process and outline basic approaches to assessing project-based group work. We then discuss potential risks and benefits of taking project-based collaborative learning online, and give an overview of technology tools that can be used to support various activities in project-based collaborative learning.

Classroom Response Systems pdf

How to foster meaningful engagement among students is a long-standing question in large lecture halls. In effort to address this issue, electronic classroom response systems (CRS) have been tested and used in higher education classrooms since the 1960’s.

The studies summarized in this paper show that CRS can facilitate the process of drawing out students’ prior knowledge, maintaining student attention, and creating opportunities for meaningful engagement. They can also assist instructors in assessing student comprehension and developing classroom activities that allow for the application of key concepts to practical problems.

Podcasting pdf

Sharing audio and video files on the Web has been possible for most of the last decade. Why, then, in the past two years has podcasting exploded onto the scene and become such a hot topic in educational technology?

How does this new technology and its widespread adoption create new opportunities in education? Is it just a passing trend, or is there genuine potential to improve the quality of the educational experience and learning outcomes?

The Podcasting paper attempts to answer these questions through the exploration of educational podcasting in three realms: the creation and distribution of lecture archives for review, the delivery of supplemental educational materials and content, and assignments requiring students to produce and submit their own podcasts. 

Lecture Webcasting pdf

The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of lecture webcasting, and to summarize findings from several formal evaluations of the technology. We focus on questions of attendance, learning outcomes, student behavior with regard to access of archived webcasts, and effects on instructor behavior and quality of teaching.

Studies indicate that the use of lecture webcasting for the purposes of archive and review is pedagogically neutral. While lecture webcasts do not affect student performance, there is some evidence that their availability improves the student's educational experience by reducing stress and providing an additional study resource.

To improve learning outcomes, instructors must think creatively about using webcasting technology to free up valuable classroom time for more interactive discussions and activities.

Laptop Study

Despite the growing popularity of laptop programs, there have been very few systematic or behavioral studies examining how students use laptops to support their learning or how the multiple uses of laptops affect the work and lives of students. In this study we use multiple methods to systematically investigate how the availability of laptops affects the culture of the classroom, the process and quality of students work, student engagement in their work, and how laptops affect the social interactions of students. Read the Laptop Study report (pdf).