Teacher Tap

Technology Takes Time

Whether it's developing the course, reading a web-based article, doing an assignment, or grading a project, it will take you twice as long as you think. Although there are many times when technology can be time-saving, at least in the beginning, technology can be a time drainer.

Consider the Reading. Students can get bogged down with reading off the screen. They complain about "all the reading", when the articles are actually no longer than traditional paper reading. Prepare students by discussing the differences between web and paper reading. Students need good skimming and scanning skills to use the web effectively. Talk about times when you explore, skim, and read. Find skimming and scanning ideas at 42explore. Provide helpers in multitasking such as using the Internet browser and word processor at the same time. Make use of cohort groups through email, eboards, and egroups.

Focus Attention. One thing that can help with the frustration of sorting through materials is providing good starting points. If students are studying Harlem of the 1920s, give them the 42explore web page as a starter. Another approach is to select a specific article or web page and cite the source. Ask students to compare different viewpoints, debate and issue, or put the topic in a historical context. Discuss how you might introduce or assign an activity using a forum.

Provide Time Saving Strategies. Distance learning students seem to lose a lot of time trying to solve problems that could be answered immediately in a regular classroom situation. Provide students with time-saving strategies. For example, some students don't realize that they can have the web and a word processor open at the same time for taking notes. If they're having trouble it may not occur to them to email another student for help. Encourage students to develop a cohort group and coordinate weekly online study groups.

Adapted from Virtual Sandcastles: Teaching and Learning at a Distance by Annette Lamb and William L. Smith.


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