With growing access to technology, many instructors are opting to make use of technology in order to sharpen their instruction delivery. Instruction delivery can take place in person, on the computer, or in combination, with different results. The use of technology can be used in order to attain specific goals that are difficult or impossible without the technology, but its usage still requires a certain level of expertise in the instructor.
One popular instructional tool which relies on technology is the slide show. A slide show allows an instructor to add visual information to a classroom lecture while reiterating the important points through text. A slide show also helps the instructor to keep on track by providing visual cues and notes. Classroom slide shows are typically created through Microsoft PowerPoint (Basic, 2014). The program is included in Microsoft Office, and requires a computer to run. In order to display the slide show, the instructor needs a means to show information from a computer, typically a projector or a computer screen facing the class (Basic, 2014). As a common instructional tool, the slide show provides context to an instructor’s lecture.
While using Microsoft PowerPoint requires know-how, it does not necessarily require teacher training. There is online and integrated help available to show an instructor how to do basic things like adding text boxes, inserting pictures, and adding new slides (Basic, 2014). In order to take full advantage of the slide show format, an instructor may attend a course on the pitfalls of using PowerPoint, and how best to steer clear of them while creating a helpful slide show lecture. For example, a slide show may include too many animations, too much text, too small pictures, or a distracting background. A slide show can greatly enhance instruction delivery, but only when used properly.
In order to create official guidelines for assignments, eliminate ambiguous instructions, and include as much helpful detail as possible, most instructors provide some form of written rubric. Computer technology allows for more complex rubrics, including easily constructed grading charts and visual calendars with steps written on different dates. If a rubric is provided online, it becomes something called a living rubric. A living rubric can be updated at any time. If the details of an assignment change, or the deadline gets pushed back, or the students are confused by the original instructions, the rubric can be edited and then the students will see only the new version. A living rubric is a better instructional tool than a paper rubric because it can be changed at any time and eliminates ambiguity.
Creating a rubric on a computer only requires access to and expertise on a document creation program. A living rubric, on the other hand, requires access to a specific sort of internet source. If the class uses a website, the rubric can exist there, and be re-uploaded whenever there are changes. Otherwise, the instructor can use a web service such as Google Drive or Cubby to place the file in the cloud. The instructor can then edit the website in the cloud, and the changes will occur instantly. With access to a living rubric, both the instructor and the students will be on the same page.
With growing financial accessibility to computers, many colleges are choosing to offer courses that take place partially or entirely online. Courses that take place both in the classroom and on a website are called hybrid, or blended, classes (Use, 2014). In the quarter system, students of hybrid courses typically meet one to two days per week as opposed to the typical two to three, with about half of their assignments and classroom exercises taking place online. Online learning is especially valuable because it allows students to attend classes from long distances, across time zones and even national borders. With online learning, it does not matter whether or not the students can complete the coursework at a certain time because online classes typically do not meet at a certain time. Blended and hybrid classes are also beneficial in rural areas because the students and instructor do not need to drive great distances every day just to attend class (Use, 2014). Whether or not a class is hybrid or entirely online, it grants everyone great flexibility concerning scheduling and distance learning.
Hybrid or blended courses require both the instructor and all of the students to have access to both a computer and an internet provider. The instructor is typically provided with access to a website specifically designed for teaching. This website includes spaces for lectures, documents and videos, support for external links, and forums to simulate classroom discussion. The more complex websites are capable of integrating slide shows, videos, gifs, graphs, and other media in order to stimulate different types of learning. All online courses require an instructional website to facilitate them, which vary in their complexity and capabilities.
Teaching a hybrid or blended course takes more technological expertise than most technology-related teaching methods. It requires the instructor to understand how to operate an instructional website, including how to organize a lesson plan into the lecture, assignment, discussion, and turn-in locations (Three, 2014). It is common for instructors first getting to know an instructional website to struggle with the website’s settings, such as who has permission to view a specific page, who has permission to comment on the forums, and when an assignment will become visible to the students. These mistakes can be prevented through training on the given website. In order to take full advantage of the online format, the instructor will also need to know how to create several different instructional tools on the computer. These tools include videos, slide shows, and external links. Because it utilizes several different forms of technological instruction delivery, there is much technical knowledge that is needed for an instructor to run an online course compared to other instructional tools.
When using a slide show, a living rubric, or an instructional website in order to deliver instruction, an instructor requires a certain level of expertise with each method. So long as each is used correctly, they can improve instruction delivery either by disambiguating it or allowing the delivery to take place across distances and time differences. With the right resources and know-how, instructors can use different forms of technology in order to improve their instruction delivery in different ways.