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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Digital Teaching Tools Need Support

Digital technologies, when designed and used properly, can help enhance college students’ learning and faculty are often encouraged to adopt such tools for their courses. That flies out the window when the institution doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the digital technologies selected by instructors.

At George Washington University, for instance, there aren’t enough smart rooms—classrooms wired for multimedia—to house all of the foreign-language courses that need them this term, according to The Hatchet campus publication. Most of the language instructors use electronic course materials and teaching aids intended to assist students in practicing speaking and verbal comprehension.

Bumped out of some smart rooms by higher-enrollment courses, smaller language classes ended up in rooms where electronic equipment was missing or malfunctioning. A German instructor said she had to repeatedly cancel classes because her assigned room didn’t have the right technology.

“That is just the way language learning is in the 21st century, and it is really tough when you don’t have those tools,” the instructor said.

Some courses had no assigned classroom at all, forcing the instructor to find an empty room or even an unoccupied lounge space.

The head of the Spanish language program suggested dividing larger lecture halls into smaller rooms that could handle technology needs. “And the lecture mode of teaching is kind of dissipating a little bit, and so as that happens, you need to accommodate the space to the new reality of teaching,” she said.

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