10 tips to improve and integrate technology use into your teaching

by Ethan Magoc
Master’s student, University of Florida
Best practices for teaching with technology or teaching new software skills to students are fluid and highly subjective, but these are 10 general strategies I have found help to effectively incorporate technology use and instruction into a teaching skill set.
1. Think about benefits of each tool. Think about drawbacks. Why are you teaching this? What will students get out of it? Make sure it’s worth their and your time.
2. Think about learning outcomes. What specific skills should they leave with? What skills should they be prepared to learn? There is currently a strong emphasis on teaching for job descriptions that don’t yet exist in journalism and other communication fields. Make sure students are aware of this and your limitations as teacher.
3. Go slow. Then go fast. Give students time to grasp new tools, then let them fly. Their creativity should take hold at a certain point.
4. Allow students’ first experiences with a new tool to occur independently. This allows for initial experimentation. They’re likely to get in and discover facets that you may not have yet, i.e. “hacking” in the term’s best sense.
5. Always encourage exploration of peers’ and others’ superior work. Use this time as an aspirational learning exercise, within reason. If teaching audio storytelling, play segments from “This American Life.” If teaching video, show Hearst or CPOY multimedia winners. If teaching data or Web presentation, show News21 work.
6. Don’t be afraid of the Web/phones/laptop use in class. Integrate a backchannel with purpose. As a student during the early days of Web 2.0, I had two professors who used Twitter for backchannel activities, and both were successful and a unique experience each time.
7. Know the tools well enough to troubleshoot. Then, teach the same, letting them discover problem-solving skills in real time. Be prepared for any and all issues that can come up, particularly with video editing.
8. Think visually. This is a second (even first?) language for digital natives. Try not to let a class go by without a single gripping image that will stay with students.
9. Trust yourself. You’ve clearly been inspired by many teachers over the course of 20 or more years of schooling yourself. You’ve seen what works, and you can adapt it to your own teaching style. Just don’t get overwhelmed when teaching new software or material.
10. Don’t teach students just one thing. Teach them how to learn. We do not have all the answers, nor will their future employers.
Sources/additional reading

Ethan Magoc is a student in Mass Communication Teaching.


Strategies for promoting creativity in your classroom

by Elaine Sponholtz
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Support Creativity and Idea Generation by:

  •  Asking naïve questions that question assumptions, why is that a given?
  • Being curious because curiosity drives new research questions
  • Equal status should be given for a Creativity Quotient along with IQ and
    (Emotional Intelligence) because it is essential for innovation
  • Synthetic Thinking (along with analytic and practical thinking) is crucial
  •  Risk-taking — looking stupid, making mistakes, taking a chance on success
  •  Humor is an undervalued mode of communication not taken seriously
  •  Crossing categories of personal and professional interests for new areas of focus (i.e. look at what childhood interests can lead to)
  •  Look for what isn’t there as a way to open mental door

Ken Robinson’s ideas on education reform:http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Taking “Baby Steps” or incremental learning
David Kelly, of IDEO and Stanford, gave TED talk about Bandura’s use of small steps to overcome fear of creativity and increase self-confidence in creative thinking

Rethinking categories and mental partitions can show that how we think of things affects our research
Projection Design and Dance Performance “Wife” by The Grey Ones:

  • Synthetic thinking or crossing disciplines tend to promote creativity and new ideas
  •  Itagé Website designed for teaching technology, including online video editing, with West African Culture — http://www.steamlearningnetwork.com/itage
  • Design thinking/iterative thinking includes revisions as part of process
  • Empathy (i.e. David Kelley’s story in TED talk of revamping MRI into a pirate game)
  • Remapping or looking for new connections from subject to subject
  • Doodling can turn into something as “Activity evolves purpose,” from artist Lynda Barry idea of idea development grounded in practice/






Elaine Sponholtz is a student in Mass Communication Teaching.

How to be more culturally responsive in your teaching

by Angela (Xiaochen) Zhang
Ph.D. student – University of Florida

1.     Develop a cultural responsive knowledge base

  • Discard inaccurate stereotypes
  • Know your students

2.     Converting cultural knowledge into relevant curricula

  • Formal
  • Symbolic
  • Societal

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7 tips to help you prepare to teach large auditorium clasess

Anthony Palomba
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

At first, teaching in large lecture halls with large enrollments can appear to be a daunting task for professors. Teaching already presents many potential challenges, and large lecture halls and class enrollments can exacerbate these elements, creating challenges for an inexperienced professor. 

However, if you are assigned to teach a lecture hall class, you should remember that this is an opportunity to meet undergraduates, many of whom may be freshman or sophomores.  In this case, teaching a class of this size and scope can help introduce you to a bevy of students, some of whom may decide to future classes with you or to ask you to be their advisor.

Additionally, the ability to manage classes in large lecture halls will serve you well when you make research presentations at conferences. 

Here are seven strategies to remember as you prep for a large lecture:

Tip #1 – Be sure to see all activities from the perspective of students.  It is crucial that you try to envision whether or not the type of methodologies and practices that you are implementing both inside and outside of the classroom will reach eighty to one hundred students or even more.

Tip # 2 – Develop an infrastructure in place so that students can get help and resources if they need it.  This will cut down on how many emails are sent to you or your teaching assistants.

Tip #3 – Implement a variety of class activities. Class activities will allow you to listen to student discussion, interact with groups, and hear from students who may present information in front of the class.  This will help you get to know your f students and serve as a way to ensure that the material is being grasped by students.

Tip # 4 – Realize that you will not be able to make a personal connection with every student.  However, every student will have an impression of how you teach and decide whether or not to take another class with you or request you as an advisor.

Tip # 5 – Learn to appreciate lecture halls. By structuring a curriculum with larger introductory courses, upper-division classes can have a much smaller class size. Additionally, large lecture classes serve as practice for conference and research presentations.

Tip # 6 – Have teaching assistants. If possible, have several teacher’s assistants who have either taken the course beforehand or are knowledgeable enough on the topic in order to competently assist in the management of the class.

Tip # 7 – Investigate the lecture hall or auditorium you are assigned to teach in.  There may be issues regarding the acoustics, location of doors, and lighting, as well as how PowerPoint images appear against the wall or screen provided in the room.

For more resources, please follow the following links and academic citations:

Academic Studies
Carbone, E., & Greenberg, J. (1998).  Teaching large classes: Unpacking the problem and responding creatively.  In M. Kaplan (Ed.), To improve the academy, vol. 17, Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press and the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education

Wulff, D. H., Nyquist, J. D., & Abbot, R. D. (1987). Teaching large classes well. In New Directions for Teaching and Learning (Vol. 32, pp. 17-30). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cooperative Learning
Paulson, D. R., & Faust, J. L. (2008). Background and Definitions. In Active Learning for the College Classroom. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.calstatela.edu/dept/chem/chem2/Active/#group

One-Minute Paper
Bressoud, D. M. (2013). In The One-Minute Paper. Retrieved April 13, 2013, from http://www.maa.org/saum/maanotes49/87.html

Formulate Share Listen Create
Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (1991). Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom. Edina, MI: Interaction Book Co.

Anthony Palomba is a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930).