Tech and Teaching

Here is a great article discussing results from a survey about the use of advanced technology in higher education. (

The take-away from the article is that college educators are slow to adopt technological changes aimed at ‘improving” their teaching methods.

As I will explain below, I shall state for the record that I am definitely a “slow adopter”.

Each day, we are inundated with e-mails, both from within the University and from interested outsiders, about new and updated technological innovations for enhancing our teaching and improving student learning. 

Often, the technology is designed to simplify or reduce faculty preparation time. I tend to ignore such emails because I prefer preparing for class “the old fashion way”, by rereading my source material and, often, by rewriting my teaching notes.

However, I am interested in technologies that improve communication and delivery between faculty and students.  For example, I am a proponent of making teaching materials available to students via a University’s on-line intranet technology, which I do for all of my courses.

Additionally, I have successfully adopted on-line approaches for advising students and conducting office hours.  Such approaches allow students to interact with the instructor without having to come to campus, which is valuable for me because many of my students are commuters.

However, as discussed in the article, I am slow at adopting technology designed to facilitate in-class teaching, mainly because of the challenge of learning and implementing those approaches. 

Often, in a short introductory lesson, we are introduced to a new teaching tool.  When the lesson is over, we are directed to build the new tool into our teaching approach, usually, with limited “in-class” support.

What happens next is fairly predictable.  We will adapt our lecture to include the new technology and it fails.

Believe me; nothing is more frustrating than having a technological “glitch” in the middle of a lecture. And, as you might guess, the “glitch” always occurs just as you’re conveying, or at least trying to convey, an important point. 

Next, you call the “help desk”. 

Well, while you ineffectively explain your problem to the help desk representative, your lecture stalls and your students are left to sit restlessly talking among themselves and/or playing with their computers and cell phones.

After you and the help desk representative solve the problem, or at least get you back on track, your important point is lost along with your students’ focus.

To avoid such events, many academics wait for one of their “more daring” colleagues to adopt the technology.  After they use it for awhile, the “early adopter” can advise us “resisters”.  Often their recommendation comes with advice on some problems one might face when incorporating the technology into their teaching. 

With those assurances and warnings, we’re more open to making a change.


About docjonz

I am an Associate Professor of accounting at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Additionally, I have more than 30 years of professional accounting experience in various capacities including auditing, accounting standard setting and corporate accounting policy.
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