The Use of Technology in the University Classroom

My professional interest is in computational analysis of clinical improvisations produced during the course of music therapy. It is a complex interdisciplinary area of research, which combines medicine, music and technology, hence the use of technology is unavoidable.

I loved reading Henderson, Selwyn and Aston’s (2017) article about students’ perceptions on what technologies are useful in university teaching. I found it fascinating and at the same time, a bit shocking. On one hand, I fully agree that technology is best for organizing and managing (logistics) my studies, but it does not enrich, or as authors name it, “transform”, the teaching/learning experience itself. Personally, in many cases I find the use of technology frustrating, because it wastes, not saves the time: I can never remember whether a particular document is in gmail (everything), Google docs (research groups), Dropbox (other research groups), Optima (some classes), Koppa (other classes), Yammer (peer review articles and communication), Facebook (other communications), Moodle etc. On the other hand, when teaching I try to convey the information in a lot of medias and modes (video, audio, presenting, discussing, writing) in a desperate hope that at least something will sink in. After reading this article I realized how childish that constant attempt to entertain was. After all, it should be about the quality of thought I am presenting and about the interpersonal communication with my students, not showing funny pictures or changing activities every 15 minutes.

Although I could not attend the lecture, I enjoyed reading the slides, prepared by Margarethe Olbertz-Siitonen. As she wrote, the use of technology depends on the context (whilst in the classroom or at home), the task (free improvisation on a piano or writing scripts for Matlab), the size and complexity of the data and many other constantly changing variables. I guess that sums up the goal of this course – to be aware of our environment and the impact it has, as opposed to learning the “right” way of teaching.