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I think it’s reasonable to say that technology (by which I mean computers, software, mobile phones, video projectors etc) has greatly changed the way that teaching is carried out. One even might say ‘revolutionized’, though that might be taking things too far, since the fundamental principles, such as linking assessment with what you want students to learn, hasn’t changed.

YouTube is a great help for a science teacher. When there’s a demonstration that you want the class to see, but is rather too time-consuming or expensive or dangerous for you to set up yourself, you can usually find it on YouTube, often with a great commentary attached. The same is true for animations. Often in physics we talk about things changing with time – and graphs go only so far in getting the message across. Seeing something change ‘for real’ in a video can be a great help to a student.

So, for this afternoon’s lecture on Electromagnetic Waves, I had some nice animations prepared to show the students. Alas, the data projector threw a wobbly. So I was back to ‘old technology’, namely a whiteboard and pen. I think I coped well with the situation, though the whiteboard afterwards looked something like an Andy Warhol – lines and symbols going everywhere, in three different colours.

I can of course put the links to the relevant videos onto our on-line learning environment, Moodle, and the students can have a look at them in their own time. Unfortunately, Moodle is not 100% trustworthy either – earlier this semester it became a victim of its own success and became overloaded with users, resulting in people like me being chucked out of it mid-lecture.

So, in summary, it’s always worth thinking about how to teach without all the latest techno-props. Often we need to.