Technology rapidly fires new platforms at consumers on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. Technology in the classroom is no exception. Whether it is an active learning classroom, using social media in and out of class, using devices in class, or having virtually proctored exams, technology surrounds students at the University constantly.
“I think the advantages of active learning classrooms are just the different kind of atmosphere that it puts students in, and it’s more of an engaging way to learn,” senior communication major Allie Schaber said. “I love how there are multiple screens for different things to be up at one time. You could have questions on one screen, with a movie or clip on the other so that we can follow along perfectly.”
Active learning classrooms work hard to bring technology and a new way of teaching into the classroom with two large projector screens which allow to put different information on each screen and mobile television screen carts that can be used for presenting information or for students use to present topics or research information.
Bringing technology into the classroom is a high priority for University professor and Executive Director for the Center for Faculty Excellence Paul Cesarini. He teaches both online and hybrid classes at the University and supports the integration of Canvas use, online student evaluations, virtual proctoring, and the use of online platforms for teaching purposes. He also wants to keep students involved and on-schedule by giving them a specific schedule using the Canvas calendar and by giving students resources for success online.
“Canvas is the best in the world. I’ve given the students the means to keep track in class,” he said. “I refuse to blast PowerPoint slideshows at my students. I keep my students as actively engaged as possible.”
Senior communication major Sammy Rupp sees the benefit to Canvas.
“I do enjoy having all assignments, grades and quizzes/exams online because I think it makes it easier for both the teachers and students,” she said. At times students can forget to put something down in their planner and having everything online makes it easy for students to check to make sure they are up to date on everything for each of their classes.”
Ramune Braziunaite, lecturer in the Department of Communication has taught a variety of communication courses at the university and suggests that every student take an online class during their time in college. It gives students who may normally sit in the back of the classroom and not raise their hand the opportunity to participate a great deal because it is a requirement in most online classes to post on discussion boards.
“Face-to-face there are a few that dominate discussions,” she said. “In the online environment you can still dominate but everyone has to speak.”
When asked about how technology might be a distraction and how some students may not do the readings and struggle with the assignments, her thoughts were straight-forward.
“If you don’t study, everything is hard,” she said. “If you use the technology the way it’s supposed to be used, you’ll be successful.”
Dr. Braziunaite also made it clear that Canvas has its advantages and disadvantages, but that the accessibility of information and course work is essential to students’ academic achievements.
“Technology is here and the purpose of higher education is to learn how to adapt to technology and the ways we communicate using the technology,” she said.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Itay Gabay teaches public relations and social media classes and dives right into the use of technology in the classroom with the use of Twitter, Vine, and other social media sites that can only be used on cell phones and computers.
“It’s a little harder now to teach social media in a regular classroom,” he said.
This becomes true as technology continues to be integrated into the classroom. Active learning classrooms and computer labs, like those in West Hall, contribute to the ability for professors and students to use social media and technology together in the classroom environment.
“I know students want to be more engaged and they use their phones and other technology for social media in class,” Gabay said.
As long as technology is used with purpose and with the intention to learn, it is a guiding tool for students at the University.