Podcast: Meaningful EdTech

graphics illustration showing microphone, headset, and keyboard
Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2022

In this Futures in Digital Learning podcast: a conversation with instructional technologists as they explore the topic of meaningful use of educational technology.

On today’s University of Arizona Futures in Digital Learning podcast, we bring you a conversation with instructional technologists as they explore the topic of meaningful use of educational technology. Join Adam Davi, Brian Hale, Danielle Dolan-Sanchez, and Brad Butler as they discuss best practices for incorporating educational technology into your course how to decide which technology tool is best for you.



Speaker 1 (00:04):On today's University of Arizona Futures in Digital Learning Podcast. We bring you a conversation with Instructional Technologists, from the Digital Learning Team, as they explore the topic of meaningful use of educational technology.

Danielle (00:17): Find something you like using, and the tool should become an extension of yourself.

Speaker 1 (00:22): Join the team as they discuss best practices for incorporating educational technology into your courses, and get some tips on how to decide which technology tool is best for you. Stay with us.

Adam (00:37): Welcome everybody to our latest edition of the futures and digital learning podcast. Once again, I am Adam Davi, a senior instructional designer with Digital Learning, and I'm here with my co-hosts again, Welcome everybody to our latest edition of the Futures in Digital Learning Podcast. Once again, I am Adam Davi, a Senior Instructional Designer with Digital Learning, and I'm here with my co-hosts again,

Brian: Brian Hale, an Instructional Designer with Digital Learning.

Adam: But man, this month, we are going to talk about educational technology and its impacts and meaningful use and integration and all kinds of fun stuff. And to join us on our podcast this month are two members from our instructional technology team, and I will let them introduce themselves. And we'll go ahead and start with, Danielle.

Danielle (01:16): Hi, thank you, Adam, and Brian for having me, I'm Danielle Dolan-Sanchez and I'm an instructional technologist within InTech and I provide support for VoiceThread, PlayPosit, Badger and Examity. Four tools that we use here at the University of Arizona.

Brad (01:35): Yeah, thanks for having us, Brian and Adam. My name is Brad Butler. I'm an instructional technologist in charge of technology innovation and pilots, former member of InTech as well. So I have a background in supporting some of those tools that we have on an enterprise level. And then currently, I help with piloting new technologies and kind of seeing what's out there, bringing those on-board meeting with instructors to kind of see where gaps are in technology. So kind of looking at what could possibly be brought into the institution further down the road. It's kind of what I'm currently doing.

Adam (02:11): Awesome. So you're the guy we need to come to when we find something cool and want to use it.

Brad (02:18): Yes. Essentially, can’t guarantee it'll happen, but I'll look at it.

Adam (02:25): Yeah. Excellent. so, I guess quick, just broad question, you know, what are educational technologies and how do they add value for learners? Yeah, no, we're starting big here with that.

Danielle (02:43): Brad, Brad, you want to start?

Brad (02:46): Yeah. So this is pretty broad topic, right? I mean just the definition of educational technology is super huge in terms of just technology that's used within the educational purpose in terms of, you know, helping with the learner, helping with the instructor, diving deeper into the content. So, it could be as simple as just using your computer to engage with that learning, simple, you know, Google Docs, Google Slides all the way up to the more complicated, you know, tools that we utilize across campus as well. So, it's just a real wide-ranging net of, things that kind of encompass educational technology. So it's kind of pretty interesting to work in that field where there is such a wide net in terms of kind of lots of different areas where we can interact with learners and instructors and instructional designers kind of across all those different levels. So that's kind of the cool thing is being involved with so many, kind of touch points with technology in terms of who's using them, who's utilizing them. It's kind of the real interesting part. So wide. and in my, in my head kind of simplified definition is looking at using technology to kind of aid in the learning process. And again, that's broad, but I feel like it fits with the broad topic that it is. So,

Danielle (04:13): Yeah, I think that's a good starting point for it. And for me too, I always try to, like you mentioned, Brad, keep in mind that it encompasses like so many different people. It's not just about the student or the learner. It's about, instructors who are using the tools to kind of streamline processes in their, classes and like the instructional designers who work with the tools. And then there's my kind of role, which is more tech support and the technical side. So, I think, like you're saying Brad, it's kind of just this wide net, and it's easy to forget something like Google Docs like that is so ubiquitous now actually is like, can be applied as an ed tech tool. So there are things that are used for ed tech purposes, not necessarily designed for them. Then there are the tools that are kind of designed with the intent and kind of pedagogical, you know, reasoning behind them, that get further down the line that are very specific to education. So

Adam (05:24): I think that's a real good distinction. You brought up Danielle too, is that there's, there's a lot of tools out there and not all of them are specifically designed with education in mind, but can still be applied in this, in this realm. whereas there's some that are specifically designed to be, you know, educational tools, that we use and, they’re meant to be used in the classroom and in courses, whatnot. But I guess, you know, the, the question is, or with that, how do we determine, or, or how do you go about, you know, determining, or when you're talking with faculty or people that want to use these tools, like, what are the, the most appropriate tools to use, what are the best ones to use, and how do you kind of send people off on their way to start exploring some of these things?

Brad (06:21): I think the first thing I usually approach that, or how I usually approach that is kind of looking at, as Danielle mentioned, kind of like what's their desired purpose, the instructor's designed purpose with the technology. And then how does that play into kind of, the pedagogy that they're going to be using as well and trying to use that to kind of match up with a tech tool that might work for them. a lot of times we truly do want to be able to use the things we already have on campus, not to bring on a ton of new technologies, because as we bring them on, that means new tools that instructors must learn. Students must learn as instructional designers have to learn. everybody has to learn. So you're just adding more things that could be pain points as well in terms of, oh, this is just another technology that I need to learn.

Brad (07:12): How deep do I need to learn it, is another thing as well. Is it easy for students to access the, those? So those are some of the things that I tend to look at as well. You know, how deeply are they going to be integrating this technology with their instruction? Is it just for a one-off type of assignment that might be for one or two weeks then might not be something we want to bring on board, but if it's going to be something that's going to be heavily integrated into their course or into a program, kind of at a grand scale as well. So kind of, you know, how is it going to be used? How does it fit into what they're trying to accomplish? How does it might maybe benefit other courses on campus too? So that's the other thing we kind of look at, is okay, if this is a use case for you, how could it then be applied to other courses, other instructors that are out there. So we're not just bringing on a tool as a kind of one-off for a special occasion as well. I love that

Brian (08:07): The fact that you were mentioning the pain points of a tool because I saw one recently that was a 360 VR walkthrough game of a scenario. And there were more problems with it than actually this, the learner was able to, you know, go from point A to point B as this character and actually learn something every time they would click on something, an error message would pop up or the character would fall through the floor and, you know, just weird stuff. And as the learner, you're thinking, okay, great. Now I have to reset the whole thing, take time to reload it. And this is, I'm not learning anything from this. I'm playing with a toy rather than using a tool to learn. Yes,

Danielle (08:46): There's always the balance of like, is this, and as Brad saying, like, if we're consulting with someone on deciding what want to use, we're kind of looking, are you wanting something that's just like flashy and kind of going to add to your course to be like, Hey, I use tech, I love tech. It's like this, you know, exciting new thing. But like you're saying, Brian, it falls through the floor. If they try to use it, or are they really coming with a concept and pedagogical like application of the tool. So it can be as simple as I think my students would pay more attention to a video and remember it better if it has an interactive question. So in that case, it's a very simple, interactive element. It doesn't have to be that they enter a virtual world and create an avatar and like talk to their virtual teacher, in that zone, you know, like that has its place, but it can be something simple that sort of replicates what teachers are doing or have been doing in the physical classroom for a long time. So yeah, in deciding the tools for my end, it's more which out of these four, usually two tools do you want to use between PlayPosit and VoiceThread? So it helps narrow it down to be like, what do you want the students to take away from it? And truly also, what do you feel comfortable as the instructor creating? Do you have support? Do you have an instructional designer? Do you have, everything you need to successfully create these like enhanced experiences? So,

Brian (10:39): So on the U of A campus, the programs and educational technology that you both support comes with that help for the instructor, right? So we're just not bringing it out in the open ocean and saying, okay, go do it, go make it pretty and wonderful. We actually have a support system behind all of these things. And as Brad was saying, it's important when we consider something that we're going to pilot that eventually we're going to have to have people that support this new technology. So that adds to overall budgets and things like that.

Danielle (11:16): That's like the ecosystem, it doesn't just exist in a vacuum where you can just keep adding tools to your stack. And like you say, just throw everyone out there to use it. It needs support for sure.

Brian (11:30): Yeah.

Brad (11:32): I think it's also important to note that as at the University of Arizona, we're not the only educational technology tool that supports teams or supports tools on campus as well. There's other teams. And I think all of us have a great, kind of motivation that we don't want people just to use our tools, to have numbers of people, our tools. We want them to be using the tool that will best fit what they're trying to do. And so even though we might only support for if they're describing what they want to do, and it really doesn't fit in our tools, we'll try and find a tool that is on campus that will help them out as well. And so, and that's the relationship we have with the other teams too, if there, you know, if we have our person that's supporting Panopto and people want to make it more like more engaging, we, they might suggest PlayPosit and kind of shifted over to Danielle's team too. So, I think it's really a good environment that we have going on of like, trying to, support those instructors by kind of finding the technology that does fit for them instead of trying to fit that square piece into that circle hole, and try and make it fit in there.

Adam (12:39): Yeah, that's a good point because we are, you know, we often, you know, maybe forget that tools like Panopto and zoom and even D2L as the LMS, you know, have, are, are, are all their own kind of separate, tools and need support on their own as well. And they're being used, you know, on campus and have their own support teams and whatnot, for, for different avenues. and I know I'm reminded, this reminded me of, Brad and I were trying to determine, this was, you know, quite a while ago, maybe almost a year ago, whether or not a Badger was going to be a good option for a course, that I was helping design and realize that it wasn't the best option based on, you know, kind of what we needed and how, how it was operating. And that D2L has its, an awards feature in it as well.

Adam (13:40): and so, we went to that and then needed to go to the D2L team to get some support on how to use it. Cause we, there were a bunch of different kind of idiosyncrasies of that as well, but, but just kind of, you know, the way that the different support teams going to work together and the fact that there's, you know, different tools that maybe do similar things like, like you mentioned, but do it more effectively for the purpose that you need it for your individual course, if you're looking for it. So

Danielle (14:10): Yeah, like Panopto and PlayPosit both have interactive elements that you can add to video. Yeah. So it's been great. I've been learning a lot more about Panopto quizzes, for example. And so, I can better kind of advice which one might work for someone's situation and at least present to them, all the differences, all the benefits, give them a demo. so yeah, Brad, that's great to bring up like that. We have so many different tools on campus and all kinds of people and yeah, behind the scenes, we all have a good relationship and communication lines with each other about the different applications of these tools.

Brian (14:51): Okay. So my mind is just racing about the idea of D two L awards. Now I'm going to find out about this and throw it in some of my courses, because what,

Danielle (15:03): Let me know if you do. Cause I had just started learning about it too. So,

Brian (15:07): So, along the same path of d2l awards and Badger and Panopto and deposit, what are, can you give us some examples of some other technologies that you've added to courses recently or worked with faculty on recently?

Brad (15:25): one of the newer ones that we piloted and it's available, it's kind of a free wear version of go look at it is perusal. So, I've been kind of helping with instructors on that. and perusal is a social annotation tool. similar to, if you might be familiar with hypothesis, that's kind of another type of program tool that's along the same lines as that. And so, I've been working with instructors on adding that to their course, and it’s really kind of cool because it's taking it, kind of to the next step, because we often think about annotating using documents, but this allows you to annotate on videos and audio as well. And so we actually have a classics teacher who teaches mythology and she's having her students listen to a podcast about different mythologies and translations and kind of the meanings.

Brad (16:15): And she's popping that into perusal and they're having a conversation back and forth over, this podcast as well. So she can pose questions and the students can come in. And one of the other cool things about perusal is the students can actually propose questions as well. So there's a special button they hit and it highlights it colors at different telling everybody involved that it's a question and the students can go in and answer the questions that the other students had too. So kind of creating some good learner and learner, interaction with this, you know, usually something that would be pretty stagnant in terms of you just pop on a podcast and you listen while you're cleaning your bathroom or walking your dog or whatever, but now you can make it a little bit more engaging and kind of get other people's perspectives about what they just heard, for the same thing that you just heard as well. So that's kind of one interesting unique new tool that I've recently added.

Brad (16:15):

Danielle (17:09): My end, I don't get to do all the new stuff really. It's more like new applications maybe of existing things, but, like I mentioned, we've been looking at digital awards and Badger, and kind of working on putting Badger doesn't have a full integration with D2L. So that's part of why we often will recommend the awards. but we've found like some ways to put pathways from Badger into d2l. So that's kind of exciting because it's something a lot of people ask for. so a lot of what I'm doing is more testing things that people instructors or instructional designers are like, I think my students would really like this or this would really help me assess the, what they're doing in the course. And then we try to use it the tools in different ways and then be able to, you know, pass that on to their uses. So yeah, there's a lot you can do. Cause a lot of it comes from existing within the LMS. So, we have d2l as this like thing, this huge monolith that everyone's using. And then we have our kind of satellite tools that can, integrate in a simple, straightforward line and then be used or you can kind of mix them up occasionally. So that's where we're at with those.

Adam (18:42): Awesome. So, you know, my question as an instructional designer, you know, one of the things that the speed bumps that I run into with using some of these tech tools is, what is, what is the, the ease of use for an instructor to incorporate this tool into, an existing course or learn how to use this tool for a new course that they're doing, even if it seems like a great fit on paper, right. you know, there's still that maybe hesitation of like, well, this is something new. I'm not sure how it's going to work. Like what, you know, I, I have to learn it too. And then I have to, you know, either trust that my students know how to use it or figure out, you know, how to teach them how to use it. And what are strategies or what are some ways to maybe alleviate some of that anxiety, from an instructor as far as like, you know, they had to trust us like this is, this will help your course, like, this is what we do. And you know, how can you, we're trying to make your life easier, even though it seems like it's going to make your life a lot harder.

Danielle (19:55): Yeah. Invest a little time. If you can find it at the beginning, it'll probably pay off. Yeah.

Adam (20:01): Yeah. What are ways that, that we can, I mean, other than directing them direct, you know, to you, to schedule an appointment, to meet with you all, to talk about the tools, what are some other things that they can do on their own that we can direct them to, to, to kind of help with some of that?

Brad (20:19): I think, I think you hit on, several good things in terms of just meaning with us. I think I know me and then also Danielle are open to meeting with people and kind of walking through, showing them being there while they walk through as well. I mean, that's as small as that may seem, but being alongside somebody and catching them if they happen to fall is a great thing. we're, I mean, we're here just as you kind of mentioned is we want you or instructors to have confidence in their and their abilities to create and use the tools. That's what we're here for. and so definitely reach out to us for one-on-one meetings, kind of meet with you 30 minutes to an hour. also don't hesitate to like to ask us for documentation. that's what we've, I've been doing a lot of with pilot technologies is trying to create some robust, instructions in terms of documentation as well to kind of walk through how you do things with the tool. so even though we've created are on point super helpful. Just wanted to throw that out there. So, and that's, Chris did a lot of it. So Chris, before Chris Ziska strange and a lot of that too, so

Brad (21:37): Much like technology, we just take what's there and kind of take the good parts and out of what we can and make it better. but stuff like that. So just, don't be hesitant to jump on YouTube and look for videos too. I know I do that a lot of time. and then another good thing for me, and again, kind of depends on your personality and how you learn, is just getting in there and playing around with it. I mean, you're not going to break things to the point of, you know, bringing down all D too well or whatever. but if you want to,

Danielle (22:11): Otherwise,

Brad (22:13): I was going to say, if you have, yeah, if you have a play space or get a place space within detail, so that way we, you can play around with it and just kind of push the limits, see what happens if you push this button and do this thing. I, I'm always about exploratory kind of learning through trying things out as well.

Danielle (22:32): Pretend you're a student. Like if you have that kind of imagination or capacity, you know, think of like where they might think to click things like that.

Brad (22:43): And as far as like on the student and, I’m a huge proponent of modeling to the students. And so, using a kind of low stakes first assignment utilizing the tool is a great introduction to the tool and it's less stressful than, Hey, here's this tool. You have a project that's, you know, a quarter of your grade that is tied to it. And this is the first time I'm making it something simple, make it, you know, it easily five points introduce yourself via, you know, voice thread or something like that as well. and then in that creation of the first assignment, don't be afraid to kind of give the instructions, like I said, model to the student, hey, this is how you utilize this. share your screen, record your screen, show you going through the process. I think it's easy for us and instructors to take for granted that we think current learners, students know technology when it's really, they don't, the whole digital native thing is kind of a bit in terms of knowing how to use technology tools. So I think it's better to be more descriptive and kind of hold their hand as well, especially for that first kind of low stakes assignment to get them comfortable using it, just like you should become comfortable using it just by getting in there, messing around with it, asking for help when you need it as well. Looking around for resources that are out there.

Danielle (24:11): I think with that, that brings up reminds me of kind of also is having a backup if you're using technology tools, like what's your plan. If something does happen the tool, or if students, are struggling to the point where they need a backup. so, for example, one of our tools Playposit if you've already created the bulb, which is the interactive video with questions on it, you could download a worksheet if a student needed to fill it out with pencil and paper and then submit it to you somehow like that, is there. So kind of taking the pressure off like ideally, and usually there's no major issues, but keeping that in mind that you could always have a backup to what you're presenting since things do break or, you know, things happen. So I also think with Stu on the student end, Brad and I have both like dropped in via zoom to courses and, you know, the instructors like, okay, they're here today for like 20 minutes to show you how to use VoiceThread. And it's great because we can share screens and let the students ask questions if they want. So I think I try to remind instructors and everyone that we are here for both students, well, students, staff, and faculty. So, that kind of gives the students like a chance to see it live. And maybe like Brad said more and the more information or kind of repetition for some of the stuff the better. So that's another option.

Brad (25:44): And I would say another big thing too, and this was especially relevant with the move to remote learning and teaching with the, with the pandemic is don't try too many new things at once. Just choose one thing, exactly, choose one thing and learn it and then use it for a little while. And then once you kind of, I wouldn't say master, but once you feel comfortable, then definitely kind of move on to something else. Don't try and tackle two or three new things at once. Cause that's just going to be overwhelming and you might not know what you need to know about certain tools. So it could just lead to more things possibly going wrong, but

Danielle (26:24): I don't do it last minute. Sorry. I keep jumping on, like, let's see, we should write a guide. We have some guides out there, but, if you are thrown into you, meaning maybe a faculty or even instructional designer, perhaps if you have an unexpected course that you're thrown into, you know, it probably isn't the best time necessarily to try a new tool, even if that pressure is there. or it feels like, oh, I have to make this interactive. I got to do it. And it's like, well, it's better to wait if you can, because learning, adding that pressure to an already stressful situation, it's hard. So,

Adam (27:06): Well also I suppose, like, even if you wanted to try it, like you don't have to put it in every module of your course, right? Like, let's say you want to, you're curious about PlayPosit you want to see how it works. you could just put in one, you know, interactive video with PlayPosit into your course could be the intro video. It could be, you know, yeah. It doesn't have to be every lecture. and that's a good way to kind of get yourself started and introduce it to the students as well and get feedback from them too.

Danielle (27:40): So, yeah, that's a great,

Adam (27:43): Did they like it? What do they want to see more of it in the course? Do they want to see less of it?

Danielle (27:49): Yeah. Cause, and then you can see how the grading functions for something like PlayPosit that has like an automatic, grading function and integration or with VoiceThread, you could see how does grading go for your time or, you know, we'll have assignment builder to coming, but, yeah, there's lots of ways. And then I also think from instructional designer, or maybe even faculty side, you can have communities, like, I feel like you all help each other out, at least in Digital Learning, using like our teams channels. So, you can ask each other, Hey, like have you come across this application or this bug, things like that. So having a community of people who are using it similarly is very helpful too.

Adam (28:38): Definitely. and that, you know, and I, I often ask instructors who, you know, have been using a tool for a while. It may be, are more skilled or more advanced in using that. Like, you know, can I, can I use some of what you're doing as an example, or can I, you know, recommend your name as someone for other instructors to ask questions to if they have it, because you’re what I consider a, an expert user on campus things. And most of the time they're more than willing to do that for others because chances are someone did that for them, you know, along the road. So, that’s good. And also, I want to kind of go back a little bit because Danielle, you brought up a good point about having a backup plan. And I think, you know, we, we've been talking a lot on this podcast about the tools that we support on, on our campus and, you know, those are paid tools that we have licenses for and can use.

Adam (29:36): But we mentioned earlier in the podcast, there's a lot of free tools out there too, for people to use and we don't necessarily have a dedicated support teams for those free tools. but they're out there. You can, you can definitely, you know, ask an instructional designer or technologists about those. We'll do what we can, you know, based on what we know, but having that backup plan, because sometimes those free tools don't always work, or they don't always stick around. and you could be using something, you get have been using something for years. And then suddenly, that company just fails to exist anymore, or they don't want to support the tool anymore. And then, you know, you must have that backup plan and kind of think about, you know, what you want to do with that. and I've run into that a couple of times, over the last year or so with things just kind of going away like clash

Danielle (30:37): D2L

Brian (30:38): At the 20 lectures in my course recorded slash forgot about, and of course opens next week. What do I

Adam (30:45): Do?

Danielle (30:46): Yeah. Not even the things that seem like monoliths exists forever. And I even talked to people about like that, the tools, the software, it's all designed by humans and created by humans. There's no like magical thing that means it'll stay around or that means it'll work exactly how it's, it's expected to all the time, you know? So, just keeping that in mind is important too. And it kind of like levels out, Hey, we're all like people using tools as we have for agents and agents, they just look different now, but yeah, they're not here forever. So,

Adam (31:30): And I think that's it. Yeah. And I think that's a good, you know, also reminder to us all, to not rely on the tool, to do the teaching for you, right. The tool is there as a support, the tool is there to enhance what you're already doing is as far as the teaching goes. And so, I think that's an important aspect of using ed tech tools is that it's not there to, you know, run your course, per se, it's there to kind of support where you're doing as the instructor. So find a tool that, you know, that, that supports what you're doing best. Yeah.

Danielle (32:11): That's the thing too, and find something you like using, because if you try it and it's just like super painful and terrible for you, then you're not going to enjoy, you're going to be distracted, you know, from what you're there to do, which is to, you know, educate and the tool should become an extension of yourself, in a way, or it's going to like have your ideas and intent it. And that's the best applications of the tools that we see.

Adam (32:43): That's a good way to put it an extension of yourself as, as a teacher. I like that. Yeah.

Danielle (32:49): It's not like a scary, separate thing necessarily. It's like, make it your own and the students will respond better to

Adam (32:58): The the other thing, you know, that we have talked about kind of some of these pilot programs, Brad brought up perusal, and I know there's a couple other, pilots, you know, that we may be talking about, or, or bringing on, to campus soon. How do we sign up for those? How do we get involved with those? Or is it something that is just a small select group? can you give us a little bit more insight there, Brad?

Brad (33:28): yeah, so usually those who help us pilot technologies are usually the people that are interested in bringing those on board. so usually they're going to be the ones that you reach out to first, if we choose the technology to kind of go forward with the pilot, because they have that interest, we want to be able to like, let them see what happens in, you know, real world situations. And they hopefully can become like an advocate for it too. And so, we might ask them to kind of maybe reach out for instructors that they know might benefit from this or might find use out of it. and then we also try to reach out to our instructional designers as well and see any instructors that they work with that this specific tool might work, will work well with, courses that it might fit into as well.

Brad (34:20): and then there's others that I know that are more comfortable using newer technology as well. They're not kind of overwhelmed by the thought of using it. And so, I might reach out to them as well to see if they are interested in, trying it out for a little while, too. so there's really no definitive way. It's just kind of word of mouth, trying to find some people who might be interested. it typically is somewhat harder than you think it would be. You would think maybe people would run to use it, but because it is only a pilot, it's not guaranteed to be around. So, you kind of talked about like the longevity of things, you might create something and maybe the pilot doesn't stick. And so it's just something that you had for one semester or two semesters as well.

Brad (35:05): so that can be kind of a deterrent as well. but you can always reach out to us. you can use the Intech email address, so InTech@arizona.edu and express interest in possibly being a part of pilots going forward, or maybe if you have an idea of a technology tool that you'd be interested in, possibly testing out and piloting as well, that could be an area that you go to for right now, there might in the future be a website, but we're still kind of in development for that too. So, the piloting something that's somewhat newer, it’s kind of more been beyond the, behind the scenes type of thing, but now maybe making it more kind of upfront and accessible to everybody. but definitely always looking for those that would be willing to test things out

Adam (35:54): Quick kind of question, you know, based on, you know, our experiences over the last year and a half, in the pandemic, have you all seen kind of an uptick in people, either wanting to use the technologies that we already have available to us on campus? or has there been more interest in bringing different technologies on the campus that people have been kind of finding what have you all noticed or has there been no change? You know what, I’m curious, this is just more of a personal curiosity question here.

Brad (36:26): I would say both are correct. So, I think when it was first, the switch happened, people were mainly just, okay, what do we have immediate access to that we can just start using right away? that was the immediate kind of, you know, instant reaction that occurred. And then as it's been going on longer now in like two years almost feels like, one of the things that I did notice is a lot more educational technology tools, offered like free periods over the COVID. And so, it's kind of trying to get people hooked in on that. so we are, we, I have been kind of using, or talking to some people that have been using the free version. Now, all of a sudden, now that we're kind of a year past the pandemic, now these technology tools are like, oh, now we're turning it into like paid for things.

Brad (37:22): so that's been kind of interesting to see that, but I would say it's kind of two parts. One is kind of what do we have out there? And then as people have been using it, I think they maybe, went out and looked for things that could possibly do it better as well, from their side of things or just things they've heard from other instructors, again, word of mouth is big. and so now that we're kind of past the move to remote, it's a little bit longer and time there are more people kind of saying, Hey, have you heard about this? Or what about bringing this on campus type of thing? So I think it's kind of a time shift thing for me, right. From my perspective.

Danielle (37:57): Yeah, that sounds right. I started this position in January of this year, so I'd never worked as an instructional technologist before.

Adam (38:09):

Danielle (38:09): So yeah, I was like if it gets 21, so January 2021 was when I started. so Brad was already there and he saw the shift to online. So, I can only imagine, from my perspective, it seems like people who may have picked up using them the tools during that time or enjoying them, maybe that's who I see more, or they are like bringing them on a lot of courses have just like every single, you know, lecture or things like that is using PlayPosit. And then they also have a lot of VoiceThreads. Like they'll use a lot of the tools effectively. but I don't know if I would see or hear from people who are like, I'm back in class, I don't need this stuff, or there's ways, to make it kind of work for classes that are hybrid. So not every course is fully in person. So I think that that application is kind of growing. So how could I use PlayPosit in my live course, and make sure that people who are attending remotely can access this stuff. So

Brad (39:27): I think the other piece of it too, is just how these different tools have adapted and transformed over time as well. some of the tools that we utilize are pretty active and trying to kind of keep up with the trends and the desires of their users. And then some of our other tools are just, we've been doing it this way, and we're just going to continue to do it this way as well. So I think that plays into it as well. I mean, even looking at zoom, which really wasn't intended to be an educational technology tool and just how they have adapted over the last year, year and a half to kind of increase or add more educational center attributes to their tool as well has been interesting too. So I think the adaptability of the technology companies and the tools to see what they can do to kind of fill in the gaps that may have been there before, or build upon desires of the users that they have.

Brian (40:18): I'm going to give a quick, name dropped to quality matters because in one of their SRS is they talk about the course technologies and the, their rubric wants to ensure that the course when it's being checked, that the tools used in the course support the learning objectives and the competencies that the tools promote learner engagement and active learning. So that it's an actual tool, not just a toy and, you know, one of them that I kind of always get hung up on is that a variety of technology is used within the course. But remember, we don't want to set up this buffet of course, technology to overwhelm people. You can, a variety can be two things, you know, so it's, it's nice to see courses that especially, I have one instructor who's doing who added VoiceThread to her online course, and she enjoyed the student interaction so much. She took it back to her in-person course. And one of the, her in-person homework now is go to VoiceThread, engage with your students with everybody else in the class, through VoiceThread, and then we'll continue with all the other stuff. So it's nice seeing that there's this foundation for the technology that, that we're putting into these courses, and then it's being used not just in online, but in-person too.

Danielle (41:44): Absolutely. I think that speaks to like centering the learner in your course design too, because especially for your example, Brian, I don't know how big the courses, but if it's a huge course, some students are never going to speak up or engage in discussion in class and that's okay. They can use something like VoiceThread to engage in a way that's more approachable for them. So it's kind of accepting that all learners have different ways that they are comfortable or different ways that they're going to retain content, engage with each other, engage with the instructor. And I think it's great to incorporate them into live in-person courses too, because it’s, you know, giving the learner those different outlets that wouldn't necessarily exist without the tools. So, yeah, that's a good example. Yeah.

Brad (42:37): That's one of the things I'm interested in seeing kind of the long-term impact of the move to remote because of the COVID pandemic. just the usage, the, yeah, the upper up edge and usage of technology by instructors who may have been more kind of reluctant to do that and hopefully them seeing the benefits of it. And just as a Brian mentioned kind of, okay, I had to use this because of emergency purposes, but how can I really utilize it to its maximum benefit to help me out as well? so just thinking about like PlayPosit and having to use PlayPosit for lectures, and then all of a sudden now I don't have to, but what if I continue to do that and I can use kind of a more flipped classroom approach and they just get all their content for homework. And then we come in and just, you know, practice skills and build upon the skills of that content.

Brad (43:25): I looked back to when I was teaching, I would have loved to not have to like sit there and just cover content in my class, but just have the kids practice and me be there to kind of walk along with them as they practice using the content that they acquire the night before the weekend, before type of thing. So that's one, one long-term impact, and I'm excited to see down the road of just kind of how suddenly having to use this technology could benefit now getting to use using, getting to utilize it and kind of find the way that it can help us out maxim engagement in terms of engaging the student and kind of helping us out in the classroom and the course as well.

Adam (44:05): I, and you all brought up some aspects of, you know, making courses more, inclusive and you know, more accessible through the tools that they're using as well. And, you know, I think, that that's a good segue for us to mention that next month's podcast is about accessibility and UDL universal design for learning. So, you know, I'm sure we'll talk about how at tech tools fit into that as well. but I want to say thank you to both of you for joining us, on this month's podcast. it's definitely a fun conversation. I'm sure we could continue talking about all these neat tools and the different things that they could do. and even as I'm, you know, listening to some of the conversations we're having, I'm thinking about how like, oh yeah, I could do this and I could explore this for a, you know, some of my courses. So

Danielle (45:04): We're here for that too, for meetings, you can always schedule like, Hey, can we just talk for 15 minutes? And we'll like bounce ideas off. yeah, it's been really fun to talk to you both.

Adam (45:14): Yeah. That's awesome. That is great. And, yeah, we'll take you up on that.

Brad (45:21): I wouldn't even say something. I think Adam or Brian mentioned it too. I think maybe Brian, if you have an instructor who used our Adam, if you have an instructor who uses one of our tools in a unique way, please pass it on. We love to hear those things. I mean, that's one of the challenge is when we're thinking of examples of how to use tools, like we kind of have our focus content area in our minds. And so looking at how to use it from another person's perspective, who has a totally different view on it from a different content area is awesome. And so, we totally enjoy hearing those things and then we can take it and maybe introduce it to, instructors of a like-mindedness and, just gives us more ideas. I'm all about seeing other people's thoughts and assignments and things like that to just to grow my knowledge bank of what we could do with tools.

Brian (46:10): Oh, speaking of knowledge bank, you guys have a fantastic knowledge base on the website right now in tech.arizona.edu. We don't know how long that website's going to be around for, but while it's still up, you can go, the articles

Danielle (46:26): Are exactly these

Brian (46:28): Articles. Yeah, they're great. They, you guys cover Badger, Examity, PlayPosit, VoiceThread. You go into the advanced stuff, the basic stuff, how to get started in all this stuff. And then the best thing of all, there's a contact tab where we can, somebody can schedule support or a consult session with y'all and have their worries and fears swept away because y'all have it under control.

Danielle (46:56): Yep. We're here for you.

Adam (46:59): Awesome. Well, thank you again for joining us. This has been great. We appreciate it. And thank you to the listeners for tuning in, and we’ll see you next month. Thanks for

Danielle (47:12): Having us. Thanks everyone.

Brian (47:15): Thank you. Bye everybody.

Speaker 6 (47:20): The Futures of Digital Learning Podcast is a production of the University of Arizona Digital Learning. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas you'd like to share with our office, go to the contact us link on our website.

Authored By:

Adam Davi

Adam Davi
Senior Instructional Designer

Brian Hale

Brian Hale
Instructional Designer