Resilient Teaching in Spite of Technology Changes

By Peder Nelson, Senior Instructor, CEOAS

Digital technology has held much promise for discovery, research, and long-term impacts for teaching and learning about nearly any subject. For me, as an instructor of computer-based coursework that attempts to build foundational technology skills along with particular domain expertise that takes us into fundamental concepts about how to create “digital twins” of the physical world that we all inhabit. Since the decade of the 1970s, computational geography has emerged from a nascent topic to one that is currently trans-disciplinary and multidisciplinary with nuances for working within a specific discipline.  

However, the recent development and disimplementations of cloud-based technology are drastically interrupting  and altering what needs to be taught in terms of computer technology skills, thinking, and emerging methodology that students currently taking courses will encounter in a short time upon graduation. When you have been trained and practiced certain software approaches to answers or workflow efficiencies, it takes a very resilient teacher to preserve and learn new methods and ways of teaching. I know when I was going through my academic training, there was just a completely different set of opportunities and ways of using technology. Much of it had to do with obtaining, downloading, and organizing what has become “small” datasets because of the internet speed, size of files, and the way the internet had been constructed.

Now, in a Web 2.0 ecosystem, I am learning how to coordinate and teach  students that are working across multiple time zones using collaborative tools in support of their learning rather than simply teaching how to do something on your own. Hundreds of students have brought their local perspectives and put data into the “cloud infrastructure” that enables this sharing but is also setup for future use. Also, a few resent technology innovations have made it easier for students outside of major cities to fully participate in ways that were challenging just a few years ago. So despite having to constantly update labs and hands-on activities to reflect current approaches, it is an exciting time for all of us right now to achieve the idea of acting locally but thinking globally.

To hear more about technology and generational science, take a listen to my interview on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Eyes on Earth Podcast Episode 96: Generational Science.

Peder Nelson is a Senior Instructor of Geography and Geospatial Science in the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of guest posts about resilience and teaching strategies by members of the Fall ’23 Resilient Teaching Faculty Learning Community facilitated by CTL and UIT-Academic Technologies. The opinions expressed in guest posts are solely those of the authors.

Top image created by Microsoft Bing

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