How Comfortable Are You With Technology?
This tool is intended to allow you to check your comfort level with basic teaching technologies. It is important that you are comfortable with the technology you are expected to use regularly for teaching. Comfort is different for everyone. So rather than dictate a required benchmark of knowledge, the appropriate technical knowledge is presented in topic areas as a series of questions. Your answers to these questions are an indicator of your readiness for teaching & learning using technology.
The questions below define the basic knowledge you will need to know. Please read through each section and answer the questions. By the end of the document you should be starting to develop a level of confidence in your knowledge and a game plan to increase it.
As you check “Yes” or “No” for each question some information will be displayed for you. The information presented to you is the same regardless of your answer. The information is designed to answer the question as well as give you further information where possible.
File Management – My Documents, file types, ZIP/compression, file and folder naming
File management refers to how you store information on your computer, in files and folders. It is very common for computer users, even relatively experienced ones, to be challenged with file management. Given the ever-increasing size of hard drives and the amount of files involved in day-to-day activity it is essential you have a clear idea of how and where your documents are stored. This also means that you should possess the ability to manipulate those files, by moving them from one folder to another, to a USB key, and be able to bundle them up (ZIP them).
To lack skill in this topic area this puts you at risk of losing documents or overwriting files unintentionally, and makes backing up your hard drive difficult. It will also slow down course preparation if you can’t locate previous files used to teach a course.
Network Services – email, Exchange, MyCampus, network drives, printers, web servers
When you are on campus and wired into the network, your computer becomes a window to a variety of services. These services include email, shared file storage drives, and printers. Also available on the network or via the Internet are MyCampus, DC Connect, and Durham College web servers. Shared drives or network drives allow faculty to store files onto network drives for backup, security, or distribution to others.
Faculty can use these services, the shared drives for instance, to deliver files to their students or to backup certain documents from their computer. A clear idea of what services are on the network and the roles they play can also help in troubleshooting when things go wrong (especially in front of a class).
Discomfort with the network or lack of awareness of the available services can cause you to work harder at some tasks than is necessary or increase the lead time required, for instance if you had to photocopy assignments instead of distributing them electronically. It is also possible to get confused about what password matches which system and therefore lock yourself out.
Email – setup, attachments, choices
The ability to communicate electronically is essential to campus activities. It is the primary means of communication at our institution. Many faculty members communicate with students using email. Therefore, it is necessity to be familiar with attachments in both sending and receiving.
All staff and faculty are given a Microsoft Exchange email address that ends with @durhamcollege.ca. This can be accessed using Microsoft Outlook, or through an Internet browser. DC Connect allows you to compose and send email to your students directly from the learning management system. You may already have your own personal email account. It is wise to become familiar with, and to consider the features and limitations of each email solution and to decide which best meets your needs.
Note that students are not given a Microsoft Exchange email address, but access their institutional mail via dcmail.ca. Faculty and staff do not have a @dcmail.ca email address.
Not being competent in this area can inhibit your ability to communicate and could cause you to miss information or create unnecessary struggles in completing tasks. Faculty may think they are communicating with their students, yet messages could be missed.
Basic Internet Abilities – surfing, searching, researching and communicating
Internet skills are important. They are a component of information literacy. These skills come into play when you are researching for assignments, communicating with your students or peers, or gathering information. You may also be using a variety of different software to communicate or collaborate with others.
There is an expectation that you have basic familiarity with the basic MS Office applications Word, Excel, and PowerPoint at a level that would allow you to create documents to be shared with others.
These are very powerful tools and learning all their aspects is a large task. Fortunately, anyone can accomplish most of what is required for teaching and learning with some basic knowledge of the applications.
It is essential to understand how to move information between documents and applications and how to save documents out in different formats such as PDF. This gives one the ability to reuse existing materials on the web without a major amount of modification.
DC Connect – setting up and managing a course & communicating with students
DC Connect offers an online space for you and your students to interact and learn. It is possible to utilize DC Connect at many different levels from basic to very advanced.
You may be familiar with other Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard or Moodle, which have a similar structure and functionality. These questions are related to your usage of DC Connect.