Instructor Narratives

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Teaching From the Beach – Using Technology

I was concerned about canceling class for a week while I accompanied my wife on a business trip (in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), a few years ago. My graduate TA was ill and not able to teach the class and I didn’t want to go a week without teaching new content to my students. 

What was I to do? 

Short of cancelling my part of a non-refundable airplane ticket, I decided to go on the trip anyway and “teach from the beach” using Zoom technology and iClicker. I had one of my undergraduate graders come to my lecture hall and set up Zoom (along with a classroom-facing camera) so that when class started I appeared on the projector screen from my sunny beach cabana in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. 

My students were in awe. They were even more in awe that I was able to share my computer screen (which contained my PowerPoint lecture) with them and successfully teach them new content from over 1,300 miles away! What sealed the deal (for them and me) was when I asked them to answer iClicker questions. Zoom and iClicker worked flawlessly and I was able to connect with my students – using technology – in real-time, from over 1,000 miles away. That was on a Monday. The real test would be to see if those same students would show up on Wednesday, knowing that I wasn’t going to be (physically) in the classroom. To my surprise, I had better attendance on Wednesday than I did on Monday because word got out that I would be teaching from the beach.

Overall, it was a great experience and a new (creative) way to use technology to teach.

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