Adding the digital flavor to the traditional pedagogy

Despite the growing demand for digital pedagogy and the creation of a massive amount of online courses over the web, most universities still prefer the traditional in-class style of teaching. Nonetheless, as I explain in this short essay, adding the digital flavor to the traditional teaching style can still highly boost the efficiency of learning from the students. I have written this essay mostly based on my experience of teaching the Optoelectronics lab course in the ECE department at Virginia Tech.

First, by recording a video of the lecture given in the class, the students can watch it over and over again if they need to. In the traditional style, students attend the class, write some notes while the teacher is delivering the material, and then they have to rely on the book and possibly the textbooks to learn the materials. However, this method is not efficient at all. It might happen that a student cannot attend a class due to, e.g., an illness situation. Also, it might be hard for the students to have full attention for over one hour continuously. So even the students that attend the class might not have the chance to absorb all the delivered materials. Accordingly, it is necessary to give the students a second chance to learn the materials delivered by the teacher, a task that becomes possible with the aid of camera-recording the class and making it available online.

Second, teaching abstract concepts by writing only on a white or blackboard could be boring and cause many students to lose their focus and attention in the early stages of the class. In this regard, it would be nice to combine the traditional style with Powerpoint presentations to make the class more attractive. Computer-based presentations also offer a plethora of opportunities. For example, one can visualize some content by delivering them as engaging animations. This could be especially helpful when we want to deliver abstract concepts, such as how a laser works. Yet, one should be cautious that just having slides is not enough and when having a repetitive and soulless theme, slides can even be more boring than the traditional white/blackboard style. Accordingly, special care must be given to design the slides in an interactive manner. Also, based on my experience, it will be even better if slides are used simultaneously with a white/blackboard style. This way, the teacher has more chances to satisfy the different flavors of learning.

Third, with the help of modern technology, it is now much easier and economically and environmentally more beneficial to deliver the homework; They can be uploaded online which could eliminate the need for billions of paper pieces and thus thousands of trees each year. Also, all of them can be almost permanently recorded without taking up any physical space or erode due to long-time storage. Furthermore, they can be delivered even if the students cannot come to the class. At a more advanced level, computer-based homework can even be designed such that doing them not only is not a burden for the student but also is a lot of fun. For example, it could be in the form of simple games or interactive tasks.

In conclusion, the use of modern technology can highly increase the quality of teaching even in the setting of the traditional style. With the current technology, a lot of new opportunities still exist that are waiting to be realized. Moreover, with the emergence of new technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, tons of even more creative and fascinating opportunities will be available in the near future.

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7 Responses to Adding the digital flavor to the traditional pedagogy

  1. Kaleigh Yost says:

    Thanks for this post! I really liked your ideas about how to effectively incorporate technology into the classroom. I totally agree that it is important to change up the way material is presented in order to retain student engagement. Plus, some material lends itself better to powerpoint presentations, or written equations on the board. I have found the most effective professors use both methods. In the world of COVID-19, I have experienced a class that has recorded lectures for the very first time. I always felt skeptical of this practice – wouldn’t students be less incentivized to come to class? But I must say it was super beneficial to me, as a student, when I went to study for the exam and wanted to review some specific topics. I even found several mistakes I had made while taking my notes! I agree with you that the course material should not be held close to the heart of the professor and only be available through a specific student’s note-taking capabilities. What is the benefit in that? I think we will see a lot of professors starting to record their lectures after this experience with pandemic-style learning.

  2. reemacademicblog says:

    This is interesting! I think you mention some really good points on the pros associated with technology addition to our classrooms. I have personally experienced that during last semester, I was taking a course in water resources and the professor used to upload all notes online for us to review later. Although I agree with what you said I find it a bit concerning to shift into much technological dependence in our classroom. It might be distracting at first, and might not result in the outcome the professors is seeking.

  3. deryaipek says:

    Thank you for the post! Your post reminded me of some of my professors who liked to stick to their “traditional” ways in the classroom. They did not stop using the board and make us write things because they believe it is more effective. I was thinking the same way until I took classes at which I learned a lot of content in an efficient way because the professors were using the digital flavor in the class. Also, I totally agree with your suggestions based on my personal experience!

  4. maftouni says:

    Thank you for bringing up the positive aspects of digital pedagogy. It mostly worries me when I think of adding more digital engagement to our lives because I find it addictive and distractive. No one can deny the benefits it has though like you mentioned. But care must be given to find the right balance to avoid the mental disruption it can cause.

  5. tmitrop says:

    I appreciate that you highlighted the practical benefits of embracing digital pedagogy. You also highlight elements that are easy to implement, as opposed to the fancy, flashy tools that people tend to focus on, which can be very intimidating to adopt. Posting lectures online is a huge benefit to students, and one I wish more teachers would accept. I believe some instructors remain reluctant to do so because of the “fairness” issue and “you should have been in class,” but the end result is just taking away someone’s opportunity to learn. As you mention, posting the lecture online can even benefit those students who *did* attend class. I personally had a lot of trouble writing and listening at the same time, and I absolutely missed important lecture points as a result of note-taking. Getting to go back and listen to a lecture to fill in those gaps would have been hugely helpful to me.

  6. Zhenyu Yao says:

    Thanks for your post and I really appreciate your idea that combines the digital flavor with a traditional classroom. Truly, it is really helpful to apply some technologies in the classroom so that students could save lots of energy and time in learning a new lesson. But more importantly, I think adding digital flavor into the classroom should be based on solid teaching philosophy. It is better for instructors to establish a systematic teaching philosophy before they apply digital technologies.

  7. brittanyshaughnessy says:

    Thanks for your post! I really appreciated your positive spin on digital pedagogy, as I think that the immediate reaction of anything new is to criticize, stating why the original way was the best, and there can never be another way to achieve something like that again. However, I agree that by adding a “flavor” of digital pedagogy can only be beneficial, allowing both students and instructors to interact in ways that have not been done before. Your suggestions from personal experience were also excellent!

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