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With the popularity of MOOCs, online degree programs, and new digital platforms for teaching and learning, it’s clear that higher ed is ripe for edtech innovation.

On Tuesday, April 11, LearnLaunch brought together three higher ed faculty members for a community discussion on ways they’ve transformed their teaching using technology. Missed this event? Check out these 5 steps higher ed faculty are taking to increase digital teaching IQ:

1. Bring the entrepreneurs into the classroom.

Try to sit in on a class and see how your product may fit in,” explains Michael Harris, professor of Computer Information Technology at Bunker Hill Community College. While professors often welcome the idea of incorporating a new edtech product, building relationships with faculty members and observing their pedagogy within the classroom allows entrepreneurs, sales reps, and other product team members to tailor their product in a way that meets the needs of both professors and students.

2. Don’t let technology adoption myths scare you away.

“Platform selection is difficult,” explains Suha Ballout, PhD, RN, Professor at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at University of Massachusetts Boston, “especially when teaching online to students that range from ages 19 to 45 and come from a wide variety of backgrounds.” However, our panelists agree that high quality edtech products can help eliminate such concerns by being collaborative, intuitive, and easy to integrate with class content and goals.

3. Make friends with your IT department and find ways to take ownership of your digital content.

Institutions will always need faculty to deliver the content to the students, but as system complexities increase, there is more of a system administrator role needed to help facilitate the content,” explains Harris. It’s important to recognize that, while faculty are often the ones creating their own digital course materials, there’s an additional component of turning that content into an accessible online class, which happens at the IT department level. Faculty being able to work directly with university IT professionals is a must when it comes to online and digital learning.

4. Don’t feel bound to continue using products that don’t meet your needs.

Yet there’s also an important element of faculty taking ownership of their courses and teaching.  I respect and treasure the creative competencies that are required to design courses,” explains Renee Hobbs, Professor of Communication Studies at University of Rhode Island. And, while many faculty members find themselves eager to integrate a new tech tool, there’s no shame in admitting that some tools may work better than others. The changing needs of students or faculty and the limitations of budget, time, and infrastructure may all play into an instructor’s choice to switch edtech products in favor of one that more directly meets his or her needs.

5. Integrating teaching and technology is a work in progress.

“Shifting from traditional chalkboards to more interaction, visuals, and engagement through technology is important, but challenging,” explains Ballout. Furthermore, as Hobbs remarks, “the pedagogy of teaching and learning has truly moved to a creative act.” So, while the first step faculty can take to increase their digital teaching IQ is simply being open to using technology as a tool for teaching and learning, the most important element for both educators and entrepreneurs alike is to keep revising, innovating, and problem solving along the way.

Helpful Resources
Eduventures: 2017 Higher Ed Tech Landscape
EdSurge Higher Ed
New Media Consortium 2017 Conference (June 13-15)
URI Media Education Lab: Summer Institute on Digital Literacy