Technology in Education
The use of technology in instructional delivery
Technology has become an increasingly critical component of instruction in classrooms all over the nation at both purely online and also at brick-and-mortar institutions which offer a substantial online component to their courses. Even institutions like MIT, through its Open Course Ware service, is offering its elite instruction online for free, as a way of expanding the educational opportunities it can offer to the general public. At all institutions, instructors must be fluent in the basics of email and word processing and to be a truly effective instructor requires a deeper and more all-encompassing knowledge of how to use technology to enhance instruction. As well as using the designated course management systems (CMS), an effective, technologically-astute instructor in all disciplines “uses presentation software and Internet resources, where appropriate, to supplement his lectures, and has moved many of his courses entirely online” (Osika, Johnson, Buteau 2009).
Professors must be confident in both the visual and verbal language of technology and know how to use technology in a vibrant, interactive format that enhances the lessons conveyed in lectures. Ideally, online interactions should add from, not take away from the instructional process. Students can post reactions to materials 24-7 through online blackboards and are not confined to interacting with peers in classes; instructors can share multimedia from around the web that reinforces the traditional syllabus of the class.
Institutions have specific hardware and software requirements for instructors teaching online and for students availing themselves of such technology. A typical institution will require a Pentium computer running the latest edition of Windows; 128 MB RAM; a 2 GB or larger hard drive; a color video display and soundcard, a minimum 56K modem; an Internet connection and up-to-date-antivirus protection (Hardware and software requirements for online courses, 2013, Elgin.). A viable, secure web browser like Mozilla is demanded, along with ‘plug-ins’ like Java and Adobe Acrobat. Even the most technically astute faculty member, however, will still need support. Some snafus are inevitable and online support staff can troubleshoot problems such as system crashes, difficulty using applications, and also teach faculty how to make use of the available technology to the maximum extent. Technology is ever-changing and particularly for an instructor who may have gained his or her degree in the pre-Internet era, understanding the widest range of technology applications possible is essential. Beliefs about the appropriate role of teaching; past experiences; and relative comfort with technology will all affect the degree to which the teacher is willing to integrate technology use into the classroom (Osika, Johnson, Buteau 2009).
While different types of courses will require different kinds of technology to be used and different degrees of emphases, far more critical is the faculty member’s personal experiences ant attitudes towards technology, in terms of how that technology is deployed. Gender (men are more likely to use technology than women); age; tenured status (tenured faculty are less likely to use online resources) and institutional support are all factors in acceptance. Additionally, class sizes can complicate the use of technology. “When faculty members use technologies such as email and chat rooms, larger classes can be difficult to manage, especially when teaching an online courseâ€¦.there is no answer to the question of what is the ideal class size, as subject matter as well as the types of assignments instructors use are factors to take into consideration when integrating technology into the curriculum” (Osika, Johnson, Buteau 2009).
Offering online instruction to faculty members who are being forced out of their comfort zones may be necessary to ensure they avail themselves of the resources open to them to the maximum degree. Also, it may be necessary to have support staff on hand even for students who may be uncertain about what is required of them, technically speaking, in an online class. Online technology is more and more common to all classes, but there are often very varied levels of preparation and awareness amongst faculty and students and faculty members are not necessarily capable of helping students with technical as well as content-related problems. Even if a teacher is not necessarily confident him or herself, at minimum he or she should be able to direct students to the needed available channels at the institution to gain mastery of the concept of online learning.
Hardware and software requirements for online courses. (2013). Elgin. Retrieved:
MIT Open Course Ware. (2013). MIT. Retrieved: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Osika, E, Johnson, R., Buteau, R. (2009). Factors influencing faculty use of technology.
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 7 (1). Retrieved: