Feminist pedagogy values student contributions and aims to foster a classroom environment that accounts for and challenges a variety of learning styles. The ways I utilize technology in the classroom helps me achieve these goals while also addressing how I can utilize technology to include rather than exclude students, whose knowledge of and access to technology may be inequitable. In the literal and figurative sense, I am interested in helping students as well as myself gain empowered knowledge through the technology of feminist pedagogy.
I typically utilize the following tools when teaching my literature and women’s studies classes:
- Music, Video, and Internet Web Pages
- Email (including a class and group work listservs)
- Message (Discussion) Boards
- Class Surveys
- Electronic Quizzes
- PowerPoint Presentations
- Excel Grade Book
- Student Web Access to: some grades, web-based research and resources links, course syllabus, class handouts, assignment descriptions, quizzes, surveys, and student group work features (i.e., message boards for shared writing assignments and group work)
The Technology of Feminist Pedagogy: Benefits & Limitations
My feminist philosophy combined with the technology listed above translates into a discussion-orientated and textually rich classroom. A typical class period may begin with students entering the classroom with music or a video playing. Discussion might begin from students’ message board posts, from the themes demonstrated in the music playing, or from an email question a student posed to me between class meetings. A lecture that follows may utilize music, video, the internet, and PowerPoint to illustrate key points. The students leave the physical class only to return later to the virtual one where they have a quiz or message board post to complete before the next meeting.
Message boards in particular create a forum for shy, quiet, or contemplative students whose learning styles may demand more time for reflection. In large and small classes, message boards provide a means for students to generate discussion topics and to continue conversation beyond classroom walls. While message boards can provide a forum for rants, when addressed privately with the students as well as openly within the class, such instances can be shaped into a lesson about the nature of argument, individual voice, and a democratic public sphere. Such cases emphasize that technology is not disembodied but intimately connected to our physical lives.
Making various course materials available on the web similarly offers students a variety of ways to take control of their education and performance in the class. I frequently use electronic quizzing, which reduces student test anxiety because the quizzes are open book and notes. Furthermore, I benefit from this technology because it allows me to efficiently grade and provide feedback. For example, the quiz function in Blackboard (Stockton’s course management system) allows me to provide the same as well as individual feedback for each question in a given quiz as well as identify and email students who performed well or poorly. Additionally, by providing feedback and explanations within the quiz function, I spend less time fielding questions from students who answered questions incorrectly. While I still demand all students who wish to discuss their grades and performance in the class come to speak to me in person, email and other electronic teaching devices help me provide efficient and consistent teaching and provide students with an efficient and perhaps less threatening means to interact with their teacher.
Technology has radically transformed the ways in which students and professors interact. I spend more time communicating with my students via email and message boards than any other mode of communication. I understand that this suits the majority of students’ lifestyles, while it may not always be the most efficient use of my time. Conversely, after learning and developing teaching with technology aids such as Blackboard and Excel, I spend less time with my own paperwork, such as distributing course materials, grading and developing quizzes, and computing final grades. Electronically copying frequently used materials from semester to semester assures I will not spend hours looking through my paper files for a handout. Archived discussion boards provide a quick refresher about students’ questions and reactions to particular units. Thus, I cannot imagine returning to teaching without technology. Technology visually enhances my teaching and, as outlined above, can be employed to assist the goals of feminist pedagogy.