Aug 17 2012

3 Back-to-School Tips for the Tech-Savvy Professor

Easy and free ways to engage with students using technology.

If you are looking for some free and easy ways to engage with your students this fall, we have a few ideas that are guaranteed to help.

Technology should never get in the way of your teaching, but, if used properly, it can be extremely helpful to you and your students. By leveraging a few free services on the Web, you’ll have the opportunity to communicate with your students and connect with other professors using new technology. Here are three ideas to get you started:

Office Hours

The traditional model for office hours is outdated — and boring. You are busy, and so are your students. Google+ Hangout office hours are not only cool but also extremely accessible. You can start a Hangout from your office, and students can join from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. As if that weren’t enough, you can share screens with anyone in the Hangout and use one of these free tools to record your office hours and then post them on YouTube (also free). Check out some other ways to incorporate Google+ into your teaching.

Use Social Media

There are so many uses for social media that we’ll have to save them all for a separate post. But, increasingly, students are using social media to communicate with, well, everyone. (Luckily, studies are showing that it isn’t affecting their grades, which is good, since it’s growing so rapidly.) Professors can use social media as a platform to engage with other professors, stay informed about education technology news, remind students that they have work due, and share work. Or you could use a free app, such as Hootsuite, to schedule reminders ahead of time for every assignment due this semester. Your students will love you for it!

Write a Blog

Documenting your experiences inside and outside the classroom is a deed that other professors will be profoundly grateful for. You might be utilizing technology in your teaching in a way that has never been done before. Even if it’s old news, your views on tech trends as an in-the-trenches pedagogical soldier are priceless to the higher education technology community. Check out these 50 higher education blogs to see just what we mean. Sites like Wordpress, Blogger, Weebly, Tumblr and Posterous are free and enable you to get a blog up and running in just a few minutes.

We hope you are looking forward to the fall 2012 semester as much as we are. How will you be using technology? Let us know in the Comments section.

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