USC professor discusses integrating technology into humanities classes

USC writing professor Kathi Inman Berens addressed humanities teachers on Tuesday in Ahmanson about the incorporation of technology into classroom environments. Berens cited the implementation of blogs, classroom discussion forums, and digital commenting as online teaching methods.

“As teachers, we want to reach out to our students and technology can help us extend our reach,” Berens said.

Berens displayed students’ research projects in the form of blogging, online peer reviews, and online literary journals, including AngeLingo, a USC student-run interdisciplinary online journal Berens helped establish five years ago. She expressed that blogs can be used as a research tool, as well as a finished product.

“There is a looser protocol in blogging, and the reach of the research can extend far beyond the classroom,” Berens said.

A proponent of online discussion boards, Berens discussed the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing the internet in one’s teaching.

“An online discussion forum can vitalize one’s voice,” Berens said. “But face to face interactivity proves more effective than behind a computer screen.”

Many teachers were eager to include aspects of Berens’ lecture into course syllabuses, or expand on their current internet usage in classes.

“I already use many technological aspects in my classes, and it was great to learn about the topic from someone who uses it more than I do,” said foreign language teacher Paul Chenier.

Others disagreed with the premise of Berens’ lecture about the correlation between the internet and teaching.

“The speaker was well-prepared and presented her points well, but I disagreed with most of what she was saying,” said history teacher David Waterhouse. “I don’t think I’ll incorporate much of it into my teaching.”

Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra thought the lecture sparked interest among teachers on many levels.

“It got teachers thinking about different assignments, and how to adequately prepare students for what’s to come in college,” he said.

Berens concluded her lecture by stating that while there are now other teaching alternatives, ultimately the art of teaching remains the same.

“Technology is the same teaching, but just a different platform,” she said.

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