I recently read Sally Kahlenschmidt’s thought-provoking chapter on faculty development and technology in Gillespie and Robertson’s A Guide to Faculty Development. What is it that most helps faculty use technology in their classes? This chapters helps us all think about that.
Much of this chapter really provided me with food for thought, both a faculty member and someone who works with other faculty members to improve their use of technology. So today, I’m sharing my notes in hopes they are of interest to others. I hope it inspires you to read the chapter in its entirety.
Kahlenschmidt identifies “One of the top three challenges that faculty members encounter” as “the integration of technology into traditional teaching and learning” (259). Therefore, it seems to me that focusing resources in supporting faculty in this area is certainly worth it!
With “technology” the author includes the broad range of technology from things faculty use in class to web-based tools. The “best” or most important technology is that which faculty need to meet the learning objectives with the student population in any particular course.
Kuhlenschmidt identifies four tasks for people helping faculty face the challenge of integrating technology into teaching and learning.
- “To understand faculty members’ attitudes towards technology”
- “Choosing appropriate technology”
- “Using knowledge of clients [students] and objectives to help faculty members integrate technology”
- “Implementing appropriate technology for the… goals of faculty development.” (259)
Faculty Attitudes Towards Technology
People respond to innovation (technology) in four distinct ways: explorer, pioneer, settler and those who stay back (260). Explorers are innovators who enjoy the pleasures of learning and risk. “They happily suffer the difficulties of adopting a tool… prefer to learn on their own… rarely attend development seminars” (260).
Pioneers “wait until they understand and can make good decisions about the tool… are opinion leaders… is able to integrate new technology into pre-existing knowledge…will explain when and why a technology might be used” (260).
Settlers represent “about 60 or 70 percent of the faculty” (260) and “are only interested in a technology to the extent it helps students learn or achieves a particular disciplinary goal, such as increasing majors” (261). They “derive little pleasure from experimenting and want a technology that works… prefer learning with and from others.” (260). They also prefer technology broken into steps and with a written handout.
Those who stay back do so either because they are successful with how things are and see no need to change or because they are in a crisis that prevents them from devoting time to anything new. The first group often sees themselves as “guardians of that which time has demonstrated to be of value” (260). Training them hinges on helping them see how technology upholds a traditional value.
Choosing Appropriate Technology
The chapter contains some excellent guiding questions for faculty developers to consider when working with faculty and how to evaluate technologies as good strategies. These all hinge on considering the purpose (or objective) of the task in terms of student learning (262-263).
Kuhlenschmidt suggests four challenges for faculty when it comes to integrating technology into teaching:
- Remaining current in instructional content
- Understanding instructional design
- Understanding the technology itself
- Having the perspective to integrate these things!
Faculty developers provide guidance in instructional design and knowledge of the technologies, including when a tool will not help a teacher achieve his/her goals for the class. Technology must always be connected to learning.
The chapter includes detailed examples of how technology can work for key learning goals such as developing:
- content knowledge
- digital information literacy
- problem-solving skills
- connections between students via online learning communities
- understanding the ethical and legal use of technology.
Using Technology in Faculty Development
Just as teachers should choose technology based on how it will serve teaching and learning objectives in a course, those providing support to faculty should consider using technology in terms of how it will meet the goals of faculty development.
“Any delivery system used for instruction can also be used for development and provides an opportunity to model thoughtful use of technologies” (268). This makes me think we should be using Moodle as the hub for our faculty development as long as we are using Moodle as our college-adopted LMS.
The chapter also notes the importance of websites for updated information and newsletters combined with video. Also, is equipment available for faculty to load out and experiment with?
Kahlenschmidt concludes by noting: “The key when working with technologies is starting with the problem to be solved or objective of the task and knowing the capacities of the target audience” (271).
An excellent and informative chapter in a book well worth considering for anyone interested in faculty development!
Kahlenschmidt, Sally. “Issues in Technology and Faculty Development.” In Gillespie, Kay J. and Douglas L. Robertson and Associates. A Guide to Faculty Development, second edition. San Fransisco: Jossey Bass, 2010. 259-274.