Teaching with Technology

When using technology in the classroom, it is important to use technology for a learning purpose. You should never use technology just for the sake of using technology. When selecting what technology to use in your teaching, focus first on the learning goal, and then determine which technology tool will help to best reach that goal.

Below are a few practical  methods for integrating technology into the post secondary classroom.


  • What are Blended Learning Courses?

    Blended Learning Courses are courses in which students’ complete part of the course in a face-to-face setting and the other part of the course is taught in an online format. It is a combination of on-campus meetings and online learning activities. The amount of face-to-face course work that is swapped for online learning activities will depend on the course and the instructor.

    Why teach a Blended Learning Course?

    Blended learning courses allows for the benefits of a face-to-face course while still giving students the flexibility of an online course. This type of course can result in improved student success. It also helps with student satisfaction and retention.

    Designing a Blended Learning Course

    When designing a blended learning course, the most important part is to define the course objectives. After these have been defined, then the course activities, assignments, and assessments should be planned to meet the objectives for the course. When selecting learning activities it is important to choose activities that meet the objectives of the lesson.

    It is important to remember that there is more to blended learning than simply adding technology to a face-to-face course. The technology component needs to be thought out and serve a specific purpose, other than using technology just to use technology.

    Interaction is a key part of online and blended courses. There are many ways to create interaction in the online environment.

    Creating Interaction Online

    One of the most important things when designing a blended course is to have interaction. There are several types of interaction: student-teacher, student-student, and student-material. In a well-designed course all of these types of interactions will occur.

    One simply way to create interaction is to give students a space in the online environment to introduce themselves to you (the instructor) and to fellow classmates. Make sure that you complete the activity yourself to allow students to better get to know and interact with you.

    Creating Content for Blended Learning

    There are many tools that can be used for creating content for online learning. Some tools available at UIC or for free include: Adobe Captivate, Adobe Presenter, SoftChalk, Jing, and Audacity (to name a few).

    Textbook publishers often provide tutorials or simulations for instructors and students. Open Educational Recourses are also available on the internet.

    Learning Activities in Blended Learning

    In Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Littlejohn and Pegler (2007), outline five learning activity techniques based on Laurillard’s Conversational Model. (Adopted from Kelvin Thompson’s Blendkit Reader)

    Type of Learning ActivityWhat Is It?Media FormsTechnologiesToolsTechnique (How)
    AssimilativeProcessing narrative media - managing and structuring informationLectures, videos, or reading textsConcept mapping, brainstorming, buzzwords, crosswords, defining, mind maps, web searchtextsWord processor, presentation software, text, image, audio, videoBlogs, Wikis, Google, Office Products, Social Bookmarking
    AdaptiveAn environment that changes according to learner inputSimulations, gamesModelingVirtual worlds, models, simulations, games
    CommunicativeDiscussingAsynchronous or synchronous discussions, chats, text messagesReasoning, arguing, coaching, debate, discussion, negotiation, performanceElectronic whiteboards, email, discussion boards, chat, instant messaging, video conferencing, web conferencing, blogs, wikis Social media, blogs, wikis, Blackboard
    ProductiveLearners producing somethingCreating, producing, writing, drawing, composing, synthesizing, remixing, mashupsArtifact, book report, thesis, essay, exercise, journaling, literature review, multiple choice questions, puzzles, portfolio, product test, votingCreative applications, electronic learning environments, computer aided assessment toolsInDesign, Photoshop, YouTube, Google Video, Movie Maker
    ExperientialInteractive activities that focus on problem solvingPracticing, applying, mimicking, experiencing, exploring, investigatingCase-study, experiment, laboratory, field trip, game, role-playing, scavenger huntVirtual lab, 3D immersive environment Google Earth


    BlendKit Reader: Created by Kelvin Thompson (University of Central Florida)

    Blended Learning Toolkit: https://blended.online.ucf.edu/

  • The traditional syllabus is black and white, all writing, and includes information about the course (i.e. course materials, course assignments, course description, course objectives, due dates, grading criteria, available student resources and services at UIC, etc.). This type of syllabus is very informative for students. It includes the important information that a student needs to succeed in the course. However, in addition to being informative the syllabus should also be engaging for students. The syllabus is the students’ first impression of the course and the instructor. Making the syllabus interactive will help to make it more engaging.

    To make a syllabus more engaging it is important to include:

    • Color
    • Textboxes (for organization)
    • Images/pictures
    • Graphs/charts
    • Hyperlinks

    When using an interactive syllabus, it is better to provide the students with the syllabus electronically rather than printing it out. A syllabus can be distributed to students in many different ways: via email, upload it to the course Blackboard site, upload it to Google Docs and share it with the students in the class, and/or upload to Dropbox. These options will allow students to access the syllabus from their mobile devises anytime, anywhere. The syllabus can be sent out prior to the start of class to help students get more information about the course before it begins. The instructor also can choose to show the syllabus to the students on the first day and go over it with them in class then provide it electronically to the students. It is up to each individual instructor to decide how and when the syllabus is distributed to their students.

    Creating an interactive syllabus takes time the first time that it is created, but once a template is made, it is easy to update. The benefits of an interactive syllabus for students make it worth the extra time that it takes to create the syllabus.

    There are different computer software’s that can be used to create an interactive syllabus. Microsoft Word is the most simple. Adobe InDesign is also a great tool to create one. Once the syllabus is created, it is recommended that it be saved as a PDF. This will help to make the syllabus accessible for all students and allow them to access it on any device.

    Suggestions of what to include in an Interactive Syllabus:

    Page One
    • Course Info
    • Picture of yourself
    • Contact information including preferred method to get in touch with you
    • Social media information, if applicable
    • Something about you
    • Teaching philosophy (short)
    • Table of contents
    Page Two
    • Course Description
    • Course Objectives
    • Student Learning Outcomes
    • Include a section on this page with the above information in “simple terms” and/or why the class is important and/or how it can relate to them/their work later in life, and/or include career opportunities that they can get from the class
    Page Three
    • Textbook information with a link to the publishers website and a picture of the book
    • Important dates (holidays, drop date, final exam, etc.)
    • Reading assignments
    • What to expect from the course
    Page Four
    • Evaluation of student performance: Make a pie chart showing how much each assignment is worth
    • Assignment information
    Page Five

    Grading Expectations: If you are teaching 1st or 2nd year students, it is helpful to provide a break down of what an “A” student does, what a “B” student does, etc.

    Page Six
    • Academic Integrity Statements
    • Attendance Policy
    • Any other course policies for the class
    Page Seven

    UIC Resources:

    • Writing Center
    • The Science and Learning Center
    • The UIC Library
    • Public Computer Labs
    • The Academic Excellence Center
    • Counseling Services
    • Campus Security


    Interactive Syllabus Examples: http://professordeannaheikkinen.weebly.com/los-angeles-valley-college.html

    Create an Interactive Syllabus:

    Steps to Create an Interactive Syllabus in Microsoft Word

    Interactive Syllabus Template: Microsoft Word

    Steps to Create an Interactive Syllabus in Adobe InDesign