University profs embrace new classroom technologies

Some teachers think that the new devices mean the difference between students being engaged and dozing off during class.

Are university professors finding new digital technologies useful in their classrooms? Some teachers in West Virginia think that the new devices mean the difference between students being engaged and dozing off during class, reports Charleston Daily Mail.

Students in Prof. Jane Caldwell's class at West Virginia University use clickers or a Personal Response System to answer questions. The devices send an infrared signal to a computer that records the answers from each student. The teacher sees immediate results.

"You can take a class of 250 students and make it feel like a smaller class," said Caldwell. "With the clickers, everyone can be a part of it. Nobody sits back and coasts through class. Students are actively involved in their education."

At Marshall University, teachers use Smart Technologies' Interactive Display, which also contains a pen-like stylus to control the connected PC, and audio and projection services are standard in each classroom.

One of the best assets of this sort of classroom technology is that teachers don't ever have to turn their backs to the students.

"I simply 'write' on the computer screen in front of me. This allows me to highlight an area of my PowerPoint slide to draw particular attention to certain areas of the slide. I am actually facing the students while writing on the computer screen, which projects whatever I write on two huge screens," said WVU microbiology professor Gary Bissonnette. "This, alone, I feel, is a significant improvement on teaching effectiveness."

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