“I want to use (insert tool) in my class. Can you show me how?”
Not my favorite question. Not because I don’t enjoy showing faculty how to use technology for their teaching. I do.
But it is the wrong question.
I usually follow by asking “What is it you want your students to do? What’s the assignment? What’s the pedagogical reason for using this tool? What’s the learning goal you are trying to achieve?”
Sometimes the response is silence.
Don’t get me wrong…I love fusing technology in my pedagogy. And I can think of lots of ways to enhance, even improve, many assignments with technology. Yet it is important the faculty focus on learning goals and objectives, not technology. When questions come to me that focus on technology without thinking through the learning goals, we have a problem. Faculty must focus on learning goals or the activity/assignment will likely be a failure.
And it is hard, I know. We get wrapped up in the details of classroom management: dues dates, lecture notes, seemingly uninterested students, grading…and, of course, technology.
Life in the classroom is far more enjoyable when focusing on the learning goals. Everything else falls into place. It takes real effort to focus on learning goals and doesn’t always come easy.
We want our students to ask the right questions and think critically about what they are saying. As teachers, we, too, need to remember to ask good questions.