Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Yale Teaching Center

Using Technology in Section

Using technology and multimedia sources effectively in your teaching draws on two separate skills: (1) your familiarity with required tools, equipment, and software programs, and (2) your thoughtfulness and resourcefulness in incorporating multimedia that are relevant for your teaching objectives.

It usually takes time for teaching fellows to gain facility with the equipment and computer programs needed for displaying multimedia in the classroom. Hooking your laptop up to the various projectors, VHS, and DVD players in a classroom can be complicated, and acquiring confidence using programs including QuickTime or Powerpoint to present movies, music, reproductions of famous artwork, or images of biological specimens also requires practice. Arriving to your classroom early and familiarizing yourself with the equipment prior to your first section can also help you feel composed and confident with the technology at your disposal.

Various campus resources are also available to provide teaching fellows with technological support. For instance, you can consult with the Instructional Technology Group on selecting and learning how to use technologies to support effective teaching by emailing itg@yale.edu. If you have problems with the technology available in the classrooms, you can call Media Services at 432-2650.

Yale and various external databases also harbor a rich collection of multimedia that can help you develop your section plans and presentations. For instance, you may choose to peruse online databases from home, or you could take a trip to the Beinecke Rare Book Library, the Film Study Center, or the Yale British Art Museum to explore their textual, video, and graphical collections in person.

The sheer vastness of these collections aside, multimedia will prove most beneficial when you use them to highlight, enhance, and illustrate key concepts and skills you would like your students to acquire. While photographs, cartoons, movies, music, and even videogames are lively, upbeat ways to convey information to your students, excessive or irrelevant use of these media can weigh down your teaching and distract your students from mastering the course material and evaluating information critically.

As an example, let’s consider a class devoted to contemporary U.S. literature. In section, you could show a picture of every author (and their family, their house, their dog…) whose books your students are reading. You could also play songs and show paintings inspired by these books, and even take a trip to the Beinecke library to show your students a vintage copy the assigned texts.

While these multimedia would add pizzazz and zest to your sections, the educational value of these additions is not entirely clear. Instead, you may consider embedding these multimedia into a larger discussion designed to help students think critically about the assigned texts. One discussion could focus on “How do we assess the cultural influence and the pervasiveness of X book?” By posing this question to students, allowing them to generate answers, and then introducing artwork, songs, or other texts as examples of cultural products inspired by the original texts, you would be using multimedia to complement your students’ capacity to think critically and in a multifaceted way about the meaning of the texts and, more broadly, about how literature and culture interface with one another. The attached Teaching Rubric explains how teaching goals can translate into the selective use of texts, images, and other media in section.

Facilitators: Daryn David, Ken Panko, and Pam Patterson