Posted by: Andrew | January 24, 2010

Teaching and Technology: Five Pillars of Wisdom

In the post “Teaching and Technology”, I give a list of 5 points which my experience with using technology in teaching applications seem to me to capture the essence of how to teach and apply technology.

  • Fancy technology does not make a bad teacher into a good teacher
  • Use of technology in an inappropriate manner can make a good learning experience into a bad one
  • Technology should not get in the way, it should allow the teacher to teach
  • It can take a lot of extra time and effort to create a class which uses the technology appropriately
  • Sometimes, you just can’t beat a good old-fashioned verbal explanation accompanied by a quick sketch on a board.

I thought that I would try to expand upon these 5 points, as the “Five Pillars of Wisdom”. I will keep it to five, as I can’t compete with the seven pillars of T.E. Lawrence!

Remember, that these are my personal viewpoints and come from teaching introductory science courses to two distinct and large classes of students.  The conclusions I have reached may be different from those of other teachers, with different student groups and different demographics.

My two groups of students come from two distinct backgrounds:

(1)    First year engineering students taking an elective physics course which is mostly modern physics

(2)    Arts and Science students taking a first year introductory general physics course.  Most of the students aspire to be physicians, dentists, veterinarians or professional scientists in disciplines other than physics.

Both classes have students with a broad range of academic abilities and a highly variable level of preparation from their high school education.  The most able students are quite astonishing in their intellectual capabilities.  I am very impressed with them.  I would also like to thank all of the students in my various classes over the years, as I tried out this new technology on them.  Not every try was successful – failure is a part of the learning process, and you have to learn what works for your particular teaching style and for the learning styles of the students.

In subsequent posts, I will expand on each of the Pillars of Wisdom in more detail.

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