Tech Savvy Faculty and a Vision of 21st Century Teachers

In a previous blog post, the tech savviness of students at my university was called into question by the interpretation of data from a study of student engagement and reported in a self-study* of information technology services on my campus.

Now let’s look at the use of technology by faculty.

Several valuable teaching and learning technologies shown to encourage engagement and improve learning are available on my campus. Though numerical data on faculty use for those listed below are not provided in the report, interpreting the bar graphs it appears that:

• less that 2.5% of faculty use web conferencing
• slightly less than 5% use ePortfolios
• less than 2.5% use lecture capture
• about 12.5% use screen capture
• slightly more than 10% use clickers.

A more telling graphic showing the percent of surveyed faculty not planning to use the same technologies showed that:

• approximately 70% of faculty do not plan to use web conferencing
• slightly less than 60% do not plan to use ePortfolios
• about 65 do not plan to use lecture capture
• about 62% do not plan to use screen capture
• about 50% do not plan to use clickers

I won’t bore the reader with anymore data but for most categories, less than 25% of surveyed faculty reported interest in using any of the tools above. Only in the case of clickers did the interest rise to slightly above 30%. Obviously, the use of these technologies will vary by discipline, but should a similar conclusion about tech savviness be made about the faculty as that made of the students? Shouldn’t the faculty at a primarily teaching-oriented campus be curious from a pedagogical standpoint about these technologies and their effectiveness?

What I take from this is that if we want to have tech savvy students, we need tech savvy faculty. We need to lead our students by example. If we want students to be skilled in the use of technology, we need faculty who are effectively using technology in the classroom. My observations are not meant to condemn the faculty nor our IT department. I don’t think this is an issue specific to my university either. “A Vision of 21st Century Teachers” by the Mahoning County Educational Service Center should inspire educators at all levels to address 21st century skills in their professional development and teaching.

*Reference: Biasca, K & Dumke, D. (2011) Information Technology Self-Study. University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Information Technology. 28p.

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About Michael Ritter PhD
Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

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