Technology in classrooms large and small

I was asked the question a while back as to whether the technology used in a classroom would change depending on the size of the class.  There’s certainly a difference in how you teach and what you can do whether the class is small or large. And, of course, you’d need more equipment (more clickers or more tablets, for example) in a larger class.

The nature of the course is a primary factor. The faculty member who asked this was in Psychology, and he taught a PSYC 101 course that enrolled around 30 students. This course was taught primarily as lectures with some use of PowerPoint to augment the lesson. Because many facts and foundational information were conveyed and expected to be learned there wasn’t much opportunity for the kind of discussion that could take place in smaller, higher level courses.

So my first line of thought was about making that “sage on the stage” type of pedagogy more engaging. Certainly PowerPoint or Prezi can be used to their fullest, making presentations lively and captivating…

Yet now I’m thinking technology can be used to make discussion in a large class more feasible than it would be without. How about using an online discussion forum or blog to solicit comments and conversation before (or after) the class? Definitely clickers would be a good way to verify that the students have read and understand the material as you start (but that doesn’t foster collaborative learning.)

What it boils down to is that, regardless of the class size, technology can be used to effectively foster collaborative learning between classes. Studies have shown that such cooperative learning methods are the most effective. There are a wealth of online resources for this, including Blackboard, BishopApps, and wikis. And as more and more students have smart phones, they can be engaged as well…

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