In the DePaul Online Teaching Series (DOTS), the facilitators demo a lot of tools. The number of tools is overwhelming for the facilitators, so it is no surprise that the number of tools is extremely overwhelming for faculty.
As facilitators, we often hear statements like “this tool doesn’t make sense for my class;” “this tool is too complicated;” “there are too many tools being presented;” “it takes too long to make stuff with the tools—I could never use them in every class.”
Fortunately or unfortunately, presenting tools is important. Bringing a traditionally face-to-face course online means some things will need to be done differently. Translating a lecture online requires tools.
The crux of the problem is not the tools, but the perception that using any particular tool is mandatory. We aren’t dictators determining what you have to use to run your class. We’re offering suggestions. Every tool in DOTS is a suggestion.
And we don’t suggest using all, most, some, or any of the tools. It’s up to the faculty to determine how their students will best learn the subject. The facilitators barrage faculty in the hopes that there will be something, somewhere, that might be useful in mitigating some of the challenges of bringing the course online.
As facilitators and instructional designers, we say, “think about your teaching style and choose one tool that fits how you like to teach.” Don’t commit to that tool. Use that one tool to accomplish one thing, in one class, in one module. If the tool works, great! Use it again for another module! If the tool doesn’t work or only works passably, you haven’t committed to it. Try one of the others.
Don’t sweat tech. Tech is just a tool. If a tool is broken or doesn’t work well, don’t use it. Get a new one. A different one. Try again.
To use a horrid cooking analogy, "don’t sweat a bad cheese slicer."
Don’t sweat cheese slicers. Cheese slicers are just a tool. If a cheese slicer is broken or doesn’t work well, don’t use it. Get a new one. A different one. Try again.
You don’t go to the store shouting about how all cheese slicers are wretched tools whose only purpose is to subvert your ability to cut cheese.
You find a better cheese slicer.