Exciting Learning: Interactive Lectures

Based on a guest post from Daniel Boris, student at University of Sussex.

“Technology allows students to become much more engaged in constructing their own knowledge, and cognitive studies show that ability is key to learning success.” - Susan Henderson, Vice-President of Institutional Advancement - Queens College, New York.

Throughout the last two decades, education, among many other matters, has started employing technology not only to make teaching and learning more efficient, but also fun and exciting. Technology has enabled us to scan and retrieve information from any document written across the history of humanity in a matter of milliseconds. PowerPoint slides replaced the old traditional blackboards, laser pointers substituted chalk sticks and notebooks aren’t made of paper anymore, but of screens and keyboards, or even tablets and stylus pens.

Currently, technology in education often only facilitates researching a topic, writing a paper or helping making a presentation. As Sugata Mitra has said, “Our education structure is shaped to fit an old system by bringing children the exact same way to fit into the machine that was running for an empire that collapsed a long time ago”. The world has changed, and the old system of one-size-fits-all is not efficient anymore. The aim is to use this technology progress in order to improve the way we learn and interact with the content, digitalising education for the so-called digital native generation.

Technological innovation is completely changing teaching and learning in universities, enhancing students’ skills and knowledge in a broad spectrum of areas from hardware to app. This new set of technologies gives us a wider set of tools to solve problems and develop ideas. Technology has had an impact on our lifestyle: on the way we shop, the way we play and even the way we socialise. It’s therefore of utmost importance that we use technology in classrooms in a creative and productive way, more than just for content consuming.

Microsoft technologies are a prime example of how technology can be used in the classroom, enabling students to interact with teachers during lectures with technologies. For example, OneNote notes can be used by students and teachers to write and solve questions simultaneously, all through the power of SkyDrive. This feature allows lecturers to interact with their students in real time to ensure their understanding of any given topic, whether it be Mathematical formulae, Business graphs or foreign language declinations.

Furthermore, websites like touchdevelop and App Builder enable teachers, students, and any individual, to create their own interactive apps. Using these tools, lecturers could design their own apps based around the modules and curriculum they are teaching, therefore making a more personalised learning experience for the students. In the same way, an app could be created around the university’s VLE which would house resources, webinars and faculty updates which can be accessed and utilised by both students and lecturers alike. The Stanford University App is a great example of how this could be done.

Digitalising education today will give future lectures an interactive element which simply cannot be achieved with technology. This full integration of technology in education can already be seen in primary and secondary schools, but is yet to make its way to the more demanding Higher Education teaching environment.

We see technology as a facilitator, not a distraction, and want to enable students to achieve their full potential by integrating it into their work as they already have done in their everyday lives. Students today are surrounded by technology, and, without realising it, learn new things every day whilst using apps, browsing the web and engaging with their friends on social media. Why stop them from using these technologies to enhance their studies when it works so well and they clearly enjoy it?

If you have any questions about engaging your students using technology, or would like to tell me how you use technology in lectures, get in touch on Twitter @katiehook1


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