Module Seven: Interactive and Individualized Web-based Technologies

Many instructors are embracing technology as a method of fostering active learning through individualized and interactive instruction. Using technology with an academic course is very amenable to today's student. In fact, students are clamoring for more technology; technology for building relationships, communicating in real-time, collaborating within an online community, and engaging in the learning process.

The existing breadth and depth of technology designed for online socialization is immense and its portability gives students the advantage of interacting with the instructor, their peers, and even the course content from virtually anywhere, using a variety of electronic devices. Students are typically quite adept at using internet technologies and their associated features to ‘connect’ with their peers and engage in meaningful exchanges. Unlike the technologies built into CMS, which both students and instructors often report are cumbersome, students find the internet technologies easy to use and adaptable. Thus, the challenge for online educators is to capitalize on students’ familiarity and access to online interfaces.

The use of web-based technologies is instructor dependent. Many instructors are comfortable with the traditional technologies such as discussion boards and chats; however podcasts or Google docs seem intimidating. The key to successful integration is flexibility and a willingness to try new technologies. Many of the students will be well-versed in these applications or, at least, comfortable exploring their usefulness. For example, using Google docs during a face to face course allows faculty to create an assignment, show how the application can be used to facilitate the assignment, and allow students to attempt a small portion of the assignment during the class. Based on the experience of the face to face course, explicit directions can be created, or 'how-to' videos, that will then allow the application to be easily deployed in an online course. It is often the students who are willing to help create these 'how-to' documents and/ or mentor their classmates.

This section discusses enhancing active learning and overall course experience by integrating web-based applications such as Twitter feeds, Google email/calendar/tasks/documents, audio and video technologies, collaboration tools, and online content.

Summary of Web-based Applications to Improve Engagement
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Twitter Feeds

Google Applications

Audio & Video Technologies

Collaboration Technologies

Online Content

Peer Assessment
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