OPINION: Technology literacy modules would benefit USF professor’s outcomes

With technology’s growing influence on education, mandating tech modules similar to those at student orientation would greatly benefit the learning and teaching experience at USF. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/UNSPLASH/J. Kelly Brito

There’s nothing more frustrating for teachers and students alike when the first 30 minutes of class are spent trying to figure out how to use Microsoft Teams.

With the rise of COVID-19 and the popularity of remote learning and asynchronous classes at USF, students and faculty have become more dependent on technology than ever. Canvas and Microsoft Teams are the primary methods of course content delivery and grading.

As such, professors should have yearly mandatory technology modules covering the software that will be used that year, like Canvas and Microsoft Teams. Digital literacy is a crucial skill for modern professors.

This skill is even more important in the wake of remote learning following COVID-19, as expressed by Turner Lee, a University of Maryland professor.

“I spent more time trying to understand the system than I did the students,” said Lee regarding challenges she encountered when teaching a remote course last year in a March 2021 interview with EdTech Magazine.

A simple day-long module brushing professors up on the basics of the technology and software they’ll be working with before the start of each year would make the process much smoother for everyone involved. 

USF students complete modules during their freshman orientation that include how to navigate Canvas, OASIS and Microsoft Teams. Teachers should have to go through the same process for the software that they will be utilizing. Their technology literacy is equally as important as students’ in this process.

Currently, the only technology resource USF offers instructors is the USF IT help desk, according to USF’s remote resources page.

During the pandemic, Vanderbilt University began hosting mandatory one-time technology training sessions for professors. The university plans to continue these sessions on an as-needed basis.

This is a necessity for university faculty members who have to spend time focusing on their areas of expertise, not on learning tech platforms, said Andrew Pass in a March interview with EdTech Magazine. Pass is the CEO of Pass Education Group, a company that helps improve curriculum designs.

“Even if they have great teaching abilities, their job is not to understand the different learning tools available. They need support in doing that.” said Pass.

Professors have a lot on their plate between classes, grading and advising. An hourslong module once a year would save them time spent fiddling with software they don’t understand or waiting on USF tech support, while also streamlining their current responsibilities. 

While USF doesn’t have to implement licensure requirements, a simple training would still benefit the learning and teaching experience at USF.

A module helping professors understand the basics of the tech and software they utilize in a semester would save so much time and frustration for faculty and students alike.