Our Relationship to Educational Technology during COVID-19

Photo of Kevin Haudek

The switch to remote learning environments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused many educators (including myself) to reconsider their relationship with educational technology. If nothing else, the switch to remote instruction options has forced us to re-examine our teaching practices, find out which we consider essential and why. Then we’ve spent a tremendous effort implementing these practices in a virtual or remote environment.

What many of us have discovered is that to structure our courses, implement teaching practices and engage students in a remote environment, we needed to explore and broaden our educational technology tools. This is important because arguably the education field has been minimally impacted by technological advances1, 2. (There is a large body of research about why educators do (or do not) adopt technology as part of their teaching.) Focused on my own experience, I think this effort to find technological tools has been a learning experience. As individuals or with small groups of educator colleagues, we have been forced to abandon comfort zones with our local LMS, and search for and evaluate new apps and tools. The switch to remote instruction has forced many of us to be “technology considerers”, if not technology adopters!

What we’ve found is that largely, for all needs “There’s an app for that!”: apps for attendance, apps for assessments, apps for video making and posting, apps for assigning groups, and more! Of course, it isn’t just that the technology exists, but how it is used within a course that makes it important, useful, and relevant. Therefore, it isn’t just the logistical matters of installing and using a “cool” technology tool, but integrating it well into our educational platform and teaching strategies. This has often required a re-examination of course learning objectives and revisions of our teaching materials to make sure the new tech tool “fits” in our course and for our intended purpose. As with any new implementation, some of these have been more successful than others!

Even if we may not continue to use all these apps when we return to in-person instruction, we’re more knowledgeable about ways to implement teaching strategies, we’re a little more familiar with the ed-tech landscape and maybe a little more comfortable to adopt “new” technology in the future!

Finally, if you’re interested in a web-based option for rich, online, formative assessments in undergraduate STEM courses, I suggest you check out beyondmultiplechoice.org for some products of our multi-year, research collaboration! 

1 Reigeluth, C. M., Joseph, R. (2002) Beyond Technology Integration: The Case for Technology Transformation. Educational Technology, 42, 9-13.

2 Aslan, S., Reigeluth, C.M. (2013) Educational Technologists: Leading Change for a New Paradigm of Education. TechTrends. 57, 18–24 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-013-0687-4