I recently conducted an interview with Dr. Rose Judd-Murray, a past professor of mine at Utah State University that teaches in the school of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education. I felt like she would have some excellent insight on technology in the classroom as both an educator and a student, and after the interview was conducted, her answers did not disappoint! There is a lot of golden information here both for educators who are new to technology, and those who are deep in the tech universe.
How have you seen technology in education change over the years?
“The most positive change I have seen in the last five years has been the focus on universal design and the improvement of connection-building for online delivery of courses. There are good ways to connect online and some really poor ways—I see both used, but at least at my institution, there is a great deal of effort expended to try and educate faculty on how to understand how and why for using the good techniques.”
What are the ways you’ve seen student improvement by using technology in the classroom?
“Content has to be relatable to be relevant. Faculty and/or instructors that aren’t using technology to make their content relevant for Gen Z & Alpha lose credibility and application with their students. I see the greatest amount of student improvement in engagement and motivation when they can see that there are real-world applications within the content. I’m a teacher advocate for using technology to connect to professionals and organizations that build these bridges for our students.”
In what ways have you seen technology help our society as a whole?
“I believe that technology solves problems. Technology is the application of science to find solutions to our societal problems. There is tremendous potential for us to use technology to improve human conditions, environmental degradation, and create a sustainable planet for future generations. The key is that technology is applied by humans—and while an invention can be “created” to fill one purpose it may be applied in many other ways. It is our responsibility to understand that technology can hurt as well as heal and if we aren’t paying attention and actively engaging for a democratic application there will be very real consequences. The adage, “technology is dangerous” is only true if we fail to take responsibility for how we use it.”
Why is technology in education so important to you as a professor? And why was it important to you as a student?
“Because of the consequences if we fail to see how/why it can be used poorly. The same technology that allows people to expand their families and has the potential to eliminate generations of crippling disease also possesses the potential for excessive genetic manipulation. It’s shocking to me how few people see the connections—and even more disturbing how quickly real scientific fact is manipulated for personal greed or political fodder. Providing the context and content for enabling a technologically literate society, enables us to embrace facts and enforce an ethical standard. The ethical standards set by the United States have an incredible influence on a global society. We have a significant responsibility to make sure that our students possess the capability to lead.”
In what ways have you been frustrated with tech as an educator, or as a student?
“There’s always something that doesn’t go right at the very last minute. Truthfully, I usually don’t pass on my frustrations to the technology. The biggest challenges I encounter are with instructors who simply refuse to evolve, incorporate, or adapt to the needs of our students. The days of only using PowerPoint to connect are long gone. I have a colleague who is a great advocate for gamification in the classroom. His incorporation of tech to create suspense, motivation, and competition has really transformed my version of acceptable class time. Being a teacher is the toughest job because it is a constant and continual learning process—BUT that’s the job—and we can do a better job of preparing them at the pre-service and in-service level for using technology effectively.”
Is there anything else you would like to add that would be helpful to know?
“I know how overwhelming it can feel to want to improve your understanding of technology. Pick one thing. Make it your goal for the whole school year. If it’s just content knowledge, use a good book like, How We Got To Now by Steven Johnson. Think about how you can use readings, experiences, and historical perspective to get your students thinking about old and new technology. If you’re struggling with simply using technology in your class, again, keep it basic until you are so comfortable with an app (like Kahoot!) that you can pull something together on the fly. Learning how to use one application effectively and efficiently (e.g., polling students in real-time) is a much better use of your time than trying to run a vlog, and Twitter, and Quizlet. My go-to practice is to know exactly what I can use and when I can use it. It makes me feel tech-powerful.”
Dr. Judd-Murray has great insight into how we can see technology advance every day, as well as both the how and why we use it in the classroom. As she stated, we are using technology to create a relatable environment for students. We are stepping out of our comfort zones to create meaningful content for them. Technology is here to stay, and if we let it, we can use it to solve our problems and make our lives in schools a little easier.