Teaching Via Technology

Teaching via technology describes teaching in which the lesson could be done with or without the technology. The technology may increase the efficiency of some activities, but IT does not influence what students do or how they think about the material being presented.  

Consider, for example, a mathematics classroom in which students solve problems on paper. When students review their work in class, the teacher may ask students to show their solutions for all in the class to see. This was a common experience for my classmates and I in school during the 1970’s and 1980’s; we carried the paper on which we had done our calculation and we transcribed out solutions on to the chalkboard for the class to see. I asked my math students to do the same when I taught math in the 1990’s (although the board was a whiteboard and students used color markers to write on them). Around 2010, I was asked to purchase a document camera and projector (about $3000 worth of hardware at the time) so that a math teacher could project images of the paper on which student had performed their calculations onto a screen for the class to see. In that case, the experience of doing math was not changed by the technology as students were performing calculation by writing numbers and drawing lines on paper. The students and teacher did avoid the time needed to copy the solutions on to another medium, but the students did not engage with math any differently. 

Video content is another example of teaching via technology. Whereas video content was displayed to the entire class at one time before computers arrived in schools (and it still in in many) instances, students today often have the option of watching video content on their own. In the 2010’s many teachers explored “flipped classrooms” in which instruction was delivered via video and students watched them for homework, then class meetings were used solve problems and apply what was taught via video. There are advantages to teaching via technology that do affect how students learn in some cases. If students can access video content away from class (for example when they are doing homework), they can get additional explanations just at the moment they need it.