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Teaching with Technology

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When our students walk into one of Stanford’s typical classrooms, they usually know what to do: they take a seat around a circular or rectangular table, either directly across from their peers or directly across from their instructor. After their seats are taken, however, all bets are off: they will look to the instructor’s cue to guide them through how else they will interact with their space for the day. Indeed, when an instructor walks into the room, they typically know what to do as well: sit or stand at some point in the room that’s clearly designated as “the front.”

But what’s next? The instructor has a lot of tools at their disposal. In fact, the typical PWR classroom has whiteboard spaces, computer screens at the front of the room, and six computer stations located on the perimeter of the room. Beyond the tools built into the space itself, the instructor may even be thinking about how tools like sticky notes, paper, smartphones, tablets, presentation clickers, and recording equipment may become a part of the space. An instructor may not think of this full range of tool options as technologies - in our current digital climate we tend to associate technologies with digital tools - but analog and digital tools alike can be considered technologies that all impact the ways in which the classroom space gets negotiated.

The idea of “teaching with technology” typically refers to using digital tools to promote student learning. However, “teaching with technology” in PWR has a more nuanced definition: we conceive of teaching with technology as making mindful choices about how and where particular kinds of technologies get used. Using digital tools simply for the sake of trying out the tools is a misguided approach because it does not consider the full range of reasons for WHY the tool might be useful. Similarly, refusing to use digital tools simply because they seem complicated or unfamiliar does not consider the full range of reasons for WHY the tool might be useful either. Therefore, our philosophy in PWR is to help instructors become aware of the range of choices available to them and make choices about tool use based on the learning outcomes for the activity and the benefits for the student learners.

What we want “teaching with technology” to support is a student-centered learning experience. While digital tool vendors may not build technologies that are intrinsically student-centered, it is our job as instructors to consider what tools offer student-centered learning experience or to adapt existing tools with the functionality we seek to operate in a student-centered capacity.

As instructors, we may already think a lot about our spaces and how they’ll impact our students’ class experiences. As new possibilities for using and interacting in these spaces emerge, we’ll continue updating these pages to reflect the range of available options to create student-centered learning experiences.

In the following sections, learn more about the available range of options for facilitating typical learning activities with a variety of tools and technologies. In each section, we’ll break down ways that you might design particular popular course activities using both digital and analog technologies.

As a supplement to these resources, check out "Get Your Hands Dirty: A Guide to Innovating Your PWR 1 or 2 Next Quarter," our brand-new, interactive resource for exploring free, easy-to-use digital tool options for teaching popular assignment sequences in PWR 1 and 2. This new web resource includes:

  • Brief descriptions of tools that can be used for annotating texts/images/videos, managing citations, building multimodal projects, and brainstorming research topics.
  • Screencapture video walkthroughs of what the tools look like and how they work
  • Links to outside resources for exploring digital tools further