John Gieger

Technology Habits of Ineffective Instructors

I recently stumbled across a blog post about the 7 habits of highly ineffective developers and couldn’t help but see direct connections to the challenges people encounter when thinking about using educational technology. Like developers, instructors (and instructional designers) face all types of challenges. Understating yourself and being aware of these challenges can help make the most of your time, energy, and resources—as well as lead to better results.

FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”

Anxious that exciting and interesting uses of tech are happening elsewhere and you’re behind? That’s FOMO talking, and it can be a loud distractor in making sound decisions.

One solution is to remember that the best user experiences don’t have to include all of the latest bits of technology if designed with sound learning objectives and pedagogical practices. Focus on your goals first, and then plug in the appropriate technologies (backward versus techward design). There’s nothing wrong in dabbling in new, exciting tech, but remember that the educational tech landscape is always changing, and planning to always be “caught up” is a quixotic endeavor.

It’s on the internet, so it must be true!

We all love to share the insights and articles that we encounter across the internet each day. However, just because Ed’s Super Education Blog mentions that the future of education is going to be linked to retinal implants, it doesn’t mean you should start designing for the coming singularity.

Even if that post had been shared and liked over 10k times, a good habit is to take the time and ask yourself a few questions:  Who is the source and who is the intended audience? Does this apply to a problem I’m facing, or am I just looking for excuses to play with new technology? Is this a practical and realistic solution?

Avoiding challenges

Sitting alongside FOMO is a fear of challenge. Imagine: It’s been two years and you still haven’t updated that one module of videos in your intro class. The students don’t seem to care, so why should you re-record them?

One solution to moving beyond “good enough” is to solicit feedback from colleagues and listen to comments your students give about their experiences in your class.  Going it alone and thinking you already have the best design (or that the information will speak for itself) will only leave you with a mediocre class experience for everyone involved.

Looking to fix something particular? Identify the problem(s), and ask yourself “what would 10 out of 10 look like?” Next, where does the current situation sit on that scale. A four? Ask yourself how you improved from a 3 and what your pathways to a 10 could look like. Then, start by selecting a pathway and working toward a 5. Incremental improvement will get you much closer to that ideal 10 than trying to implement drastic change all at once. (Adapted from Carol Kauffman, Harvard Medical School)

By taking on challenges, inquiring and expanding your knowledge, and being deliberate in your educational tech choices, you avoid becoming an expert beginner and are well on the way to becoming a highly effective instructor.

John Gieger

About John Gieger

John Gieger leads the Center for Educational Technology in DePaul’s College of Education. After several years in digital archiving, John came to DePaul in 2013 to work in Teaching with Primary Sources, a program sponsored by the Library of Congress. Since 2016, he has been working to effectively integrate tech into classrooms and curricula. His professional interests include Interdisciplinary education, pedagogica/andragogical strategies, and drinking gratuitous amounts of coffee.

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