According to Sonya Parrish, former senior lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences, new doors to creativity and collaboration are opened when students are supported to explore and leverage the technology tools available to them.
In English 1110: First-Year English Composition, Parrish and her students investigated podcasts, engaging with each other and the course content using devices they received as part of the Digital Flagship pilot program in 2018. The culminating assignment was for students to use available software to create their own podcasts.
"It’s important to realize that we live in a digital world. And assigning tasks or even major assignments that are more tech-heavy is something that will benefit our students in the future... Thinking about these tech teaching changes that can go into higher-level, major-specific courses is really exciting because it allows the teacher to think about real-world applications to what they’re doing in the classroom.”
- Sonya Parrish, Senior Lecturer, College of Arts and Sciences
Technology tools at Ohio State
As part of Ohio State’s commitment to digital literacy, the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation provides access to a variety of learning technologies and digital tools.
Technology that supports learning. From centrally supported tools like CarmenCanvas and the eLearning toolset, to Microsoft 365 and other approved cloud-based apps and software, Ohio State students have many tools at their disposal to engage in class and complete coursework.
Tools to become digital creators. University-wide access to Adobe Creative Cloud provides students with a range of digital tools for building valuable productivity, creativity, and communication skills.
Anytime, anywhere access to software. New Virtual Desktop services allow students to use a variety of software applications from any device with internet access, enabling them to learn, complete coursework, and create content anytime, from anywhere.
Skills that set them apart, academically and professionally. Students can participate in digital skills training, certification offerings, and integrated pathways to industry credentials for in-demand skills.
Why use university-supported and vetted tools?
When you use university-supported tools and other approved technologies in your course, you can be confident that they have been vetted by Ohio State for security, accessibility, and privacy. This enables you to focus on teaching without worrying about barriers for your students or potential legal liabilities. Moreover, technical support for our eLearning toolset (including CarmenCanvas, CarmenZoom, Mediasite, Top Hat, and more) is provided by knowledgeable staff right here at Ohio State.
By leveraging Ohio State technology thoughtfully in your teaching, you can find new means to share course content, foster student engagement, promote connection and collaboration, support critical thinking, and encourage creativity and expression. The opportunity to develop tool fluency and new digital literacy skills will serve your students not only throughout their university careers, but into their future professional lives as well.
How do students use technology for learning?
You have likely noticed that your students have their devices out during class in addition to—or as a replacement for—pen and paper. Looking around the room, you may see a variety of smartphones, laptops, and iPads or other 2-in-1 devices (laptop/tablet combos). As part of the university's Digital Flagship initiative, undergraduate students who began at Ohio State between fall 2018 and spring 2022 were issued an iPad, smart keyboard, Apple Pencil, and case. As such, many students in your higher-level courses may use their iPads in class and to complete assignments, while students who enrolled after spring 2022 may be using different devices.
College students often use multiple devices and apps for coursework, study, and recreation. The devices your students bring to class—and the devices they most prefer to use for coursework—are likely to vary from learner to learner. No matter the devices your students use, they share access to a range of available software and apps provided by Ohio State.
Testimonials and data collected from Ohio State’s 2020 Student Life Survey (Center for Study of Student Life, 2020) indicate that students use their devices, alongside university technology, in numerous ways:
Studying and reading digital books or textbooks
Participating during in-class activities
Completing online homework, exams, and quizzes
Watching online lectures
Attending Zoom meetings
Creating and editing photos, visuals, and videos
One of the most common ways students use iPads and 2-in-1 devices, specifically, is for effective note taking and annotation. The ability not just to type, but to make handwritten notes and draw with an Apple Pencil or stylus, enables them to transform their note-taking processes in meaningful ways. You might see students adding pictures to their notes or “marking up” PDF texts, graphics, and copies of PowerPoint slides during class. Microsoft OneNote is a device-agnostic app available to all Ohio State students that can support this function.
Digital note taking allows students to easily go back to edit and re-organize their ideas, moving and editing chunks, adding photos or screenshots, highlighting key ideas, and color-coding concepts. They can also share notes via the cloud to generate ideas collaboratively with peers and instructors. Class notes—no longer confined to paper—can easily be edited and synthesized into study guides before midterms and finals.
“Everything is right in front of me. It’s not like I have my textbook and then I have my notebook separately. So I think it’s a lot easier to just get things done in a shorter amount of time.”
- Hanna Kim, Student in English 1110: First-Year English Composition
We know your students are using technology for learning, but are you leveraging the tools available to them in your course planning? Even with students’ varied device preferences, you can design learning activities and assessments that capitalize on their access to common software and apps.
By leveraging the technology available at Ohio State, you can:
Cultivate more avenues to active participation during lecture, rather than passive consumption of information
Provide opportunities to practice skills and demonstrate learning in unique and varied ways
Promote greater ease and energy of student collaboration, in person and remotely
Explore new modes of expression for assignments and assessments
Below are a number of methods you can use to optimize your course for engagement with technology.
You may teach a course that is primarily lecture-based, but that doesn't mean your students have to be passive or disengaged. Technology can help you break up your lectures to create space for response, interaction, and reflection.
For example, use polling software such as Top Hat to embed knowledge checks or collect ideas and opinions during lecture. A great approach for large lectures, polls can be graded, ungraded, and even anonymous. You can foster peer interaction by having students think-pair-share before responding to a poll. In virtual class meetings, polling can also be accomplished using Zoom polls. For recorded lectures and asynchronous content, a range of tools including Mediasite, H5P, SoftChalk Cloud, and Nearpod allow you to create more interactive course material by embedding polls, quizzes, and other activities.
Encourage active note taking during lecture using digital tools. Scaffold students' note taking by providing guided notes or "skeleton slides" that they can fill in using laptops or tablets. You might ask students to make collaborative notes with peers, share their notes with you so you can check for understanding, or edit and re-organize their notes to compile shared study resources before exams.
You can also promote active engagement with course material outside of class using annotation tools. For example, the online tool Hypothesis, available in the College of Arts and Sciences, enables students to add comments, annotations, and questions in the margins of instructional texts and other text-based resources.
Effective note taking improves student comprehension and learning. Studies have shown that writing notes by hand helps students process and retain information better than typing notes (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014; Smoker, Murphy & Rockwell, 2009). You might share these active note taking strategies from the Dennis Learning Center with your students.
Low-stakes practice activities
Integrate technology into the low-stakes practice activities students do during class or for homework. There are a variety of ways they can build skills and demonstrate their learning using digital tools, whether individually, in pairs, or in groups. How might you prompt students to solve problems, represent processes, or illustrate key concepts using the technologies at their disposal?
If all of your students have 2-in-1 devices, translate handouts or print materials into a digital format that leverages the writing, drawing, and multimedia capabilities of tablets. This is particularly useful for identification and labeling activities. For example, say you want students to represent the life cycle of a bean plant. Provide a PDF for them to download and mark up with their devices. They can write in the stages of the life cycle on a diagram or illustration. Alternatively, you could flip the task so that students create the illustrations that accompany an already labeled process.
Skills are learned through practice, feedback, and opportunities to improve. You might have students share their diagrams during class using wireless projection or a shared OneDrive folder, and then facilitate peer feedback and discussion. If the activity will be turned in for credit, have students submit their diagrams via Carmen. When revisions are needed, they can use your feedback to make edits to the same file and resubmit it. In this way, you can go beyond checking for understanding to observe growth in students’ knowledge over time.
Another valuable way to leverage technology in your course is for student-student interaction. Digital tools can help you foster collaboration synchronously and asynchronously, in face-to-face and virtual settings, and for pair, small-group, and whole-group activities. Through well-designed collaborative learning opportunities, your students can connect with each other, co-learn and discuss material, collaborate on projects, teach each other content, and get valuable peer feedback on their comprehension, ideas, and coursework.
You can use collaboration tools in your course to facilitate:
Note taking, brainstorming, and ideation. Use OneNote for collaborative note taking during class activities (keep in mind that Microsoft 365 allows only 10 collaborators to simultaneously edit a note). Digital whiteboards are also a great collaboration tool for brainstorming, mind mapping, sketching out ideas, and visualizing creative solutions to problems. Whether in person or online, whiteboard tools allow students to write, draw, erase, edit, rearrange, and annotate their work. Check out Microsoft 365 Whiteboard and Zoom Whiteboard for starters.
Discussion and communication. You are likely familiar with the Discussions tool in Carmen, but there are a range of other available tools you can leverage to facilitate student interaction in your course. For example, Flip (formerly called Flipgrid) is a video discussion platform that can take peer connection in your course to the next level through visual discussions (it can also be used for office hours, study groups, small-group work, and more). Yammer is an alternative to Twitter that allows you to create a private group for your course so students can comment and connect via posts that are only viewable by their classmates. Teams is another collaboration tool that allows group chats, conversation channels, instant messaging, audio and video calls, and more.
Small-group breakouts. For virtual class meetings, consider how you can leverage breakout rooms to facilitate effective small-group discussion and interaction in CarmenZoom. Students can even use Zoom whiteboard in their breakout rooms. Learn more by viewing this recording of Exploring CarmenZoom: Student-Student Interaction, or register for an upcoming session.
Group activities and assignments. Microsoft 365 enables students to easily and efficiently collaborate on any Word documents, Excel sheets, and PowerPoint slides they are creating together, and they can organize shared files for group assignments in OneDrive. Students can also work together to create and edit videos, images, websites, and more using Adobe Creative Cloud.
Showcasing work. If you're looking for a tool through which students can share their work and ideas with one another, look no further than U.OSU, the university's easy-to-use website platform. Give your students access to edit a course website so they can write blogs, share assignments, and post videos or other digital work they author. All Ohio State staff, faculty, and students can use U.OSU, so your students can also create or co-create their own websites for assignments and group projects.
Multimodal assignments and assessments
One of the most exciting ways technology tools can enhance your course is through multimodal assignments and creative assessment options. Go beyond traditional papers, exams, and oral presentations to incorporate creative assignments like videos, infographics, graphic novels, and podcasts. Adobe Express (formerly called Adobe Spark), for example, enables any student to easily create graphics, videos, and web pages. Microsoft Sway is another device-agnostic option that supports the production of interactive multimedia presentations, videos, and digital storytelling. If your students have iPads or Apple devices, audiovisual tools such as Clips, GarageBand, and iMovie will also be available for use.
There are disciplines in which practicing multimedia content creation skills may be particularly useful for career readiness, such as architecture, engineering, or graphic design. But multimodal assignments are valuable in any course, as they allow students to display their knowledge and skills in formats that better align to their individual strengths, interests, and career goals.
For some students, multimedia content creation may be a bit intimidating. Be sure to provide clear instructions and support resources for multimodal assignments. Explain how each assignment aligns to your course learning outcomes and helps students practice and apply important skills. Provide a rubric that makes expectations for both content and form explicit, and share additional how-to resources to support the use of necessary technology tools, such as those in our Toolsets documentation, on the Digital Flagship website, or in the Administrative Resource Center,
Read more about Designing Assessments of Student Learning.
Using your own technology for teaching
You're ready to take advantage of your students' devices and technology access, but how will you use your own tools in the classroom?
From creating course material to grading to handling the administrative work of teaching, there are a variety of ways technology can support your instruction.
Create multimedia course content. Use tools available at Ohio State, such as Microsoft 365 and Adobe Creative Suite to develop more engaging images, videos, and presentations for your course. Use mobile apps to record and edit engaging videos to import into your Carmen modules. You can even try SoftChalk Cloud or H5P, which integrate with Carmen, to create interactive content for your course.
Project your screen during class. Use wireless projection to demonstrate key concepts and skills, explain processes, model your thinking, and show your work. Have students follow along in real-time as you generate ideas, mark up and annotate texts or visuals, solve equations, and more. You can even export your work as images, time-lapses, PDFs, or videos afterward to provide students with study material. If teaching remotely via CarmenZoom, you can share your screen using the menu at the bottom of the window. If you intend to record and share your Zoom meetings, learn more about Zoom cloud recordings and protecting the privacy of your students.
Collaborate with students. Participate alongside your class during learning activities, using the same technology tools. Explore the ideas under Low-Stakes Practice Activities and Collaborative Learning above.
Give efficient and meaningful feedback. Provide feedback on essays and assignments faster using an Apple pencil or stylus. Mark PDFs or documents up digitally just as you would with a pen on paper. You can also use a camera and microphone to create quick audio or video feedback for students on their submissions in Carmen.
Choosing technology tools
When considering the learning technology, software, and apps to use in your course, keep your goals in mind. Select tools that add value and further your learning outcomes, and consider that technology may not be the right choice for all learning activities. No matter how you use technology in your course, encourage students to use their devices in class in the ways they’ve learned are helpful to them and support their learning.
Consider the following best practices as you plan how to integrate technology in your course.
Know your rationale.
Why are you choosing a particular technology tool? Does it align to your learning outcomes and the other teaching strategies you employ in your course? Will it promote student engagement, foster collaboration and interaction, or advance students’ digital literacy skills?
Use Ohio State-supported or vetted tool(s).
As noted above, Ohio State provides instructors and students access to a wide range of technology tools that have already been vetted for accessibility, privacy, and security compliance. From Carmen and the eLearning toolset to Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft 365, and much more, a variety of tools are available to help you meet your course goals. Explore Toolsets available at Ohio State.
Keep in mind that CarmenCanvas is the foundation upon which the other tools you use should be layered. Ensure your Carmen course is clearly organized, easily navigable, and student-friendly before bringing in other technologies. Read more in Carmen Common Sense: Best Practices.
Ensure all students can access and use your chosen tool(s).
Is your chosen tool device-agnostic, meaning it can be used across students' varied devices and operating systems? If not, be sure to provide other options. Even if your tool is device-agnostic, presenting multiple assignment formats and tools from which students can choose is a best practice.
Avoid selecting tools that will require students to pay for accounts or create any other barriers to their participation.
Provide support resources for using technology.
Prepare ancillary resources and help contacts for the tools you ask students to use, especially if they are new or unfamilar. A great starting point is our Toolsets documentation, but you may find additional tutorials and guidance on the Digital Flagship website and in the Administrative Resource Center. Remember to account for the training and prep time needed for students to learn any new tools in your course plans.
Keep technology manageable.
Be mindful of scope. There are a multitude of ways you could integrate technology tools into your course, but you should set limited and achievable goals for yourself and your students each term. Don’t try five new technology tools at once or expect students to learn multiple apps or platforms.
Technology beyond the classroom
Opportunities are also available for Ohio State students to develop digital skills and experiment with technology outside of their coursework. Digital Flagship is a student success program committed to preparing Ohio State students for a modern, mobile, and technology-driven workforce. It aims to remove barriers to academic and professional success by promoting equitable access to technology training and support. Through Digital Flagship, students find new pathways to develop digital literacy, career readiness, and skills in demand in the current job market.
Digital Flagship offerings include:
Tech Tutoring. Students can sign up for a virtual consultation with a trained student mentor on using any university-provided programs, such as CarmenCanvas and Microsoft 365.
Swift Coding and App Development Certificate. A self-paced online course to give students the foundational knowledge to build a great app and code effectively. No experience is required.
Design Lab. Located inside of COhatch Gateway, the Design Lab is a space for collaboration and idea incubation. It hosts a variety of programming and can be reserved for workshops and events.
Share the above resources with students at the start of term and encourage them to use these avenues not only to support their coursework, but to develop new skills and further their personal career goals.
A number of avenues are available to help you and your students effectively integrate digital tools into teaching and learning activities.
Support for your teaching
If you’d like to explore how you can enhance your teaching with technologies available at Ohio State, the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation (OTDI) offers a variety of supports.
- Learning Opportunities: Browse upcoming events on enhancing your teaching with technology. You may be interested in pursuing the Technology-Enhanced Teaching endorsement.
- Recorded Workshops: Explore our playlist of workshop recordings to find topics of interest to you.
- Teaching Consultations: Request a consultation with OTDI staff to receive individualized guidance on integrating Ohio State tools into your course. This route is particularly helpful if you want support to redesign a course that was iPad-centric.
Support for your students
Know the resources available to students when they need guidance with technology. Direct students to these resources when assigning technology-heavy projects, or include them in your syllabus and call them out at the start of the term.
- IT for Students: This is a great starting point to explore the range of tools, apps, trainings, resources, and technology-enhanced learning spaces available to Ohio State students. Here, students can also browse wellness resources, academic success tips, and avenues to finding help with technology.
- Tech Tutoring with Student Mentors: Students can schedule a chat or video call with a Student Mentor to get support for a variety of technology tasks and tools, including iPad setup, specific apps, CarmenCanvas, file storage and management, and multimedia creation.
- Workshops and events: Students have access to a variety of learning opportunities on digital skills, mindful technology use, creativity, digital design, and coding through hands-on workshops and the Design Lab in the COhatch Gateway.
- Digital Flagship Handbook: This robust online resource provides useful information for students who have iPad devices. In addition, it addresses key topics around digital wellness including privacy, security, and mindful technology use.
If you have students looking for assistance with device access, they may contact their academic advisor about being referred for a technology loan. For questions and support regarding student technology loans, contact the IT Service Desk.
Ready to integrate technology into your course? Explore some of the exciting ways other Ohio State educators are leveraging technology tools for teaching and learning.
- Center for the Study of Student Life. (2020). (rep.). Digital Flagship Initiative: A Research Report from the 2020 Student Life Survey. Retrieved from https://cssl.osu.edu/posts/632320bc-704d-4eef-8bcb-87c83019f2e9/documents/2020-sls-digital-flagship-report-accessible.pdf.
- Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Psychological Science, 25(6), 1159–1168. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614524581
- Smoker, T. J., Murphy, C. E., & Rockwell, A. K. (2009). Comparing Memory for Handwriting versus Typing. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 53(22), 1744–1747. https://doi.org/10.1177/154193120905302218