Ed Tech Dilemmas

Today I returned to the classroom. I suppose it is too cliche to even mention how fast the summer flew by. During the last few weeks of this so-called summer break I’ve been tweaking syllabi (or syllabuses, as evidently it’s become acceptable to say), trying to make choice about which readings to ditch, how to create a better flow, and which technologies I will use in the classroom.

Some of my tech dilemmas center on whether opensource is always best, or whether proprietary platforms–like ARTStore, which I want my Am Civ students to use for a project–are ok too, even if my students will never be able to afford a subscription after they graduate. I made the executive decision to move my Digital History students’ blog and course materials out of D2L (that’s Desire 2 Learn, along the lines of Nothing Compares 2U, our clunky learning management system) and into WordPress. I want the site to be public and accessible, but I also wish to respect my students’ right to privacy. I’m hoping we come to a consensus about that on Thursday.

I revised my Varieties of History course to require more exposure to Zotero right from the get-go. Too many students didn’t bother to really learn how to use it until the very end of the semester when their databases were due. Now, against my usual style, I will be giving them a mid-September take-home quiz on using Zotero to create bibliographies and citations.

And the biggest dilemma really is whether the tech gets in the way or the learning. I want my students to gain transferable skills. Editing images in PhotoShop is indeed a transferable skill (and WCU thankfully now has a license for the Master Suite!). But the ability to assess the role of images within history and culture is also a transferable skill, and arguably one that will last well beyond the next software upgrade.