Faculty Experiences - Ghislaine Lydon
What matters most to you in your teaching?
How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?
How have your students responded to your use of technology?
What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?
How could the University better facilitate the use of technology in instruction?
Show what you're talking about
Bring an experience to the classroom
Multimedia web sites
Using Technology to Foster a More Holistic Teaching Approach
My ultimate goal in using technology for teaching is to reach out to students by choosing media that they can relate to while enriching the content and accessibility of my classes. The course for which I was nominated, History 166B , is a survey of West Africa and its seventeen countries from the 1800s until the present. Most students begin the class believing that Africa is “a country” of famine, disease, “tribal warfare,” and endangered species. Students who have never taken an African history course typically express fear and anxiety when they approach me about enrolling. By utilizing multimedia formats for class lectures, African news, music, and historical literature, and then linking these to a multifunctional course website, I attempt to make Africa and its past come alive for the students.
In preparing my lectures, I have benefited tremendously from UCLA’s excellent web and media resources, including those provided by the Social Science Computing department, and the great support staff within the history department. I focus on those aspects of the course which are most difficult to convey to students, and then utilize alternative media formats to present this information. The technologies used in my classes are:
- Multimedia course website
- Content rich lectures on Powerpoint
- Multimedia presentations of music, documentaries, historical footage on CD, DVD and VHS formats
- Use of Photoshop software to enhance scanned historical documents and imagery
I use multiple maps, sketches, and contemporary and historic photography to familiarize students with Africa’s physical geography, cultural traditions and artistic trends. To dispel the myth that Africans have no written or intellectual traditions, I show images of the large variety of historical written sources available to historians for reconstructing the African past, from hieroglyphs to documents written by Muslim Africans in Arabic. Many of these images I scanned from my own archival collections, and in using this data I teach about historical methodology which often borrows tools from archaeology and anthropology.
I also make great use of audio and audiovisual materials. I regularly show relevant video clips from documentaries and sometimes segments of feature films which students can check out at the media-lab for further viewing. Last year I started to introduce students every day to a different African musician from the 1960s until the present. I play the music as students arrive to class from my laptop and begin the lecture by asking them to guess the nationality of the performing artist. Then I show a slide containing the image of the album, a photograph of the musician, a short biography and the historical relevance of the music.
These multiple technologies allow for a holistic approach to teaching and a more interactive experience for students. As an instructor, I am convinced that these innovations have greatly enhanced my effectiveness in the classroom and made lecturing a more meaningful experience. Students are visibly more alert, intrigued by the material and inspired to learn more.