Educational Technology Tools to Support Online Teaching

TOH Tai Chong
College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT)

Tai Chong collates and discusses easy to use and free-for-use educational technology tools that faculty could use for their classes.

Photo courtesy of tirachardz from Freepik

The global shift to online teaching over the last few months has sped up the development and adoption of educational technology. With the support of the Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL) and Centre for Instructional Technology (CIT), educators at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are better able to leverage tools such as Zoom and MS Teams to adapt to changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to resources provided by NUS, it is encouraging to note that educators have started using this opportunity as a springboard to test out more varied online teaching tools.

In this post, I describe some free-for-use tools that educators can consider in preparation for the forthcoming semesters.

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Technology aside, scholars have described how educational technology tools can go beyond being a substitute for face-to-face teaching, such as the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model to integrate technology into the learning environment (Puentedura, 2012).

The SAMR model can be used to enhance learning through substitution of learning activities, such as using Zoom to replace our face-to-face teaching. It could also be used to augment student performance or productivity, such as switching to online quizzes to speed up marking and feedback. In addition, teaching and learning could be transformed to play a larger role in modifying learning tasks and outcomes, such as using forum discussions to assess participation. It could also redefine and create previously unachievable tasks, such as production of a documentary or curation of virtual field trips.

While the SAMR model illustrates a spectrum of how technology can be used, this does not mean that transformation is necessarily better than enhancement. Hamilton, Rosenberg, and Akcaoglu (2016) further recommend that educators consider the learning environment before implementing technology and place more emphasis on the process of learning and not the outcome alone. In short, the effectiveness of technology still hinges on how educators leverage on these tools to support student learning.

Personally, I find inserting an activity every 15 min can make the sessions more engaging (also see Tan 2020). Screen recording tools were able to cut down the preparation time by about 30%. However, I would like to clarify that I am not endorsing these tools nor is this list exhaustive. Rather, I would like to encourage colleagues to take a longer-term perspective as educational technology can and will continue to play an important role in the post-pandemic era. The goal for us educators is to use technology effectively in our classrooms to achieve learning outcomes and to support our students’ learning.

 

Tai Chong TOH is a Senior Lecturer at the College of Alice & Peter Tan, where he is also the Associate Director of Studies and Academic Director of CAPSTONE programme. Tai Chong’s interests in education include reflective writing, Students-as-Partners, community-based learning, environmental and inter-disciplinary education.

Tai Chong can be reached at taichong.toh@nus.edu.sg .

References

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. TechTrends, 60(5), 433-441. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

Puentedura, R. (2012). The SAMR model: Six exemplars. Retrieved from http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2012/08/14/SAMR_SixExemplars.pdf.

Tan, Y. L. L. (2020, May 6). Engaging and motivating students in online learning. Teaching Connections. Retrieved from https://blog.nus.edu.sg/teachingconnections/2020/05/06/engaging-students-in-online-teaching/