“When you go to the hardware store to buy a drill, you don’t actually want a drill, you want a hole, they don’t sell holes at the hardware store, but they do sell drills, which are the technology used to make holes. We must not lose sight that technology for the most part is a tool and it should be used in applications which address educational concerns.” (Fletcher, 1996(link is external), p. 87)

Technology provides tools for active learning, among others—it is a means, not an end. Integrating technology into our pedagogy conjures reflection on our part as educators about moving away from the ways things have been done, to imagining the ways things ought to be done. (How can I make this lesson more relevant, applied, practical, collaborative, connected, multidisciplinary, etc.?)

Technology can support and enhance your teaching and student learning in three central ways:

  1. It can expand the scope of classroom learning beyond the physical boundaries of the classroom (and also beyond inclusion of only teacher and students)
  2. It can expand accessibility of, and engagement with, content and information
  3. It can expand the ways students can demonstrate what they have learned

There are many resources on campus that can help you use technology in the classroom or online to increase student engagement and administer your course. But, do not forget, innovations in technology do not necessarily lead to innovation in teaching when not driven by sound pedagogy!

bCourses

bCourses is a web-based communication and collaboration environment. bCourses supports teaching and learning, committee-based projects, and research initiatives for the UC Berkeley community.  Using a supported web browser, users may choose from the many tools in bCourses and combine them to create a site that meets their needs. Below are just some of the capabilities of bCourses:

  • Provide an online Gradebook for your students which can calculate grades based on categories and weighting.
  • Communicate with your students using the Announcements tools.
  • Allow your students to communicate and collaborate with one another and in groups.
  • Create an online Forum for discussion or reflective journaling.
  • Upload handouts, lectures, and articles for students to access in between class times.
  • Schedule office hours.
  • Conduct online assessments and collect assignments online.
  • Embed rich media like photos, video, and sound files for students to access.

Other Web-based or Online Tools and Services

There are many other web-based tools and online services that are not directly supported by campus that can be used to enhance student learning and engagement. These third-party tools can meet your needs but can also pose challenges, whether it's a learning curve or privacy issue. It's best to seek some advice or consultation when considering the use of these tools.

Getting Support

The Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Teaching & Resources Center has a wonderful Teaching Guidewhich articulates some key questions to consider.

You can also contact Educational Technology Services (ETS) for a one-on-one consultation or check their workshop schedule online.

If you are looking to discuss the pedagogical considerations of integrating technology into your course, or to be connected with a colleague who may have had experience with using technology to meet a particular learning goal, contact teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail) to participate in our consultation program.