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Published November 8, 2009 | Biology

Teaching Differently and Efficiently Using IT

Since my start in teaching in the autumn of 2000, I've been an IT enthusiast. I started my IT career by producing my course notes using PowerPoint. Admittedly, this method served as a bit of a crutch to help me conquer my stress and my fear of forgetting something important for the progress of my students. It should be mentioned that I was just about, or even less than just about, totally uninformed about the skills-based approach and was blissfully focused on presenting theoretical content in a lecture format as best I could. As time has moved on, I have made big changes, hopefully for the best. I have diversified my IT arsenal, and I no longer consider it as a crutch, but as a toolbox permitting me to efficiently transmit my knowledge, skills and attitudes to my students. Let me give you some examples.

Having students comfortable with the latest technology, I didn’t want to be left in their dust!

To set the record straight; I started my first session at Cégep de l’Outaouais with an enormous curiosity but very little computer knowledge or skills in IT in education. Having students comfortable with the latest technology, I didn't want to be left in their dust! I contacted my IT Representative and another pedagogical counselor to find out what tools were available. That was where I heard about the Personal Space of Profweb. And, dear reader, that was where I turned into an IT monster!

Student feedback is the basis of my motivation for all of this work.

Very quickly I began to work on a webpage using FrontPage for my authoring. This software was perfect for me because it was a snap to use and even though the final product wasn't a masterpiece, it suited my purposes. The interface is simple and clear and although the graphic quality of the resulting page bore a resemblance to a ten year old talking about her dog Bingo, it didn't matter; I had a platform for my students and to date there have been few complaints! My site contains a multitude of pedagogical tools including my course notes, laboratory protocols and other pertinent documents. The Profweb Personal Space offers a password protected access, so it isn't accessible to the general public. I've posted animation about Biology and Biotechnology, quizzes which I did with Netquiz and crossword puzzles from Crisscross Words. Student feedback encouraged me to do most of this development which also includes a blog, podcasts and a number of other pertinent documents for my students. A colleague and I even made short films about laboratory procedures. You cannot imagine what fun this was! Although we didn't have the resources of Hollywood studios, the resulting films did the job, and students liked to use them to prepare for lab sessions or tests.

...students who find having access to presentations on theory, which they can listen to on their mp3 players on a bus or in the gym, to be extremely convenient.

Student feedback is the basis of my motivation for all of this work. They particularly appreciate the pre-exam quizzes. All course content is online where students have 24/7 access worldwide although it's possibly an illusion to think that my students would be conscientious enough to consult my webpage on a trip during Reading Week! Even if I'm taking my first steps in podcasting, I have had a gratifying response from students who find having access to presentations on theory, which they can listen to on their mp3 players on a bus or in the gym, to be extremely convenient. As for the blog, I'm also in my initial stages of development. Among other contributors, I ask students to post and respond to what I write about material seen in class. Among other subjects, I posted a text on vaccinations for a course on immunology which received varied and interesting responses.

In brief, the IT tools available to us have proven their mettle to help students consolidate their knowledge as well as to offer students different, varied and hopefully interesting learning strategies.

2 comment(s)

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    Raymond Cantin wrote November 12, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Nice post Patrick! It's great to have teachers like you writing positive stories about the use of IT in the classroom. I like the end comment when you say that the new tools help students consolidate their knowledge as well as offering new learning strategies. I give podcasting workshops to teachers with APOP and many are adopting it. It would be great if you could insert hyperlinks in your article when you suggest tools like Netquiz or Crisscross Words. Readers could click on the words and go and find more info about those tools. Writing for the web gives us that possibility, but not paper! Cheers :)

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    Patrick Fillion wrote November 12, 2009 at 12:43 PM

    Bonjour Raymond, merci pour le commentaire. Je n'ai pas pensé mettre de lien dans mon texte, car c'est notre responsable des tic au cegep qui m'a demandé d'écrire un petit qqch, et je n'ai pas pensé le faire. Pour Netquiz et les Mots-entrecroisés, ce sont des trucs du CCDMD, facilement accessibles via le web.

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