Teaching > Thoughts on Instructional Technology

I've been impressed with the wealth of simple, effective, and free technologies that can be used to make classrooms more interactive and to enhance communication among students and between students and teachers. Here are some examples, taken from the Aquatic Field Ecology course I TAed in Fall 2011, of how I've so far implemented these technologies in my teaching.

I maintained the course website for Aquatic Field Ecology in collaboration with the professor and site creator, Emily Bernhardt. Site access is restricted to maintain student privacy, but you can see a screenshot here. Our site included course logistical information, a frequently updated calendar of field trips and due dates, space for student comments and discussion about specific research problems, and other components I'll explain below.

One of my first contributions to the site was the following image, which connected the course learning objectives (left column) to the initial and capstone projects that students completed during the course.
In my favorite application of instructional technology so far, we used this website in combination with Google Docs to share data in real time, with students creating, uploading, and trading data analysis spreadsheets during class sessions. I look forward to more opportunities to engage students so actively in the future!

Finally, here's a video I prepared for my Aquatic Field Ecology students while we were studying crayfish diets. Though our  research question was about how many snails crayfish ate, the crayfish never seemed to be hungry during class. So when I stopped by the classroom one evening and spotted this crayfish actively feeding, I filmed and posted it on both YouTube and the class website.

Crayfish Eats Snail


I recognize that It's possible to get carried away with instructional technology, exhausting both students and teachers, but so far I'm finding that judicious use of data and media sharing can add a lot to my students' experience in a course.