Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Teaching tech

Posted by Megan on October 14, 2009


The relationship between technology and teaching is a topic that has warranted much discussion in higher education in recent years. In a recent post on Prof Hacker, Amy Cavender discussed her rationales for requiring the use of particular computer applications in Political Science courses. She finds that skills in specific technologies lead students to higher-order understanding of the research process and collaborative work. Self-efficacy—in general and with technology—is also an outcome of requiring students to use tools like Zotero (or EndNote) and Google Documents.

In a similar vein, John Sutton Lutz recently put together a useful checklist of digital competencies for graduate students. Again, the idea is that the specific technology skills will allow for the development of fundamental abilities in five key areas:

  • Research: information retrieval and fluency in working with different types of files
  • Communication: technologies for personal communication, collaborative work, and current awareness
  • Teaching: designing presentations and facilitating learning in the classroom
  • Dissemination/Presentation/Publishing: presenting at conferences, informal publishing, new publishing models
  • Critical analyses of the digital media: understanding “what the Internet is, how it works, and who controls different elements of it”

Both of these pieces, and many other like them, argue that tools for scholarship are just as essential for students to learn as the “content” of a particular discipline.

The library world (and the McGill Library in particular) is deeply involved in exploring the ways in which technology, research, and education are intertwined, as seen, for example in experiments with retrieval tools, e-books, and social media (find us on Twitter or chat with a librarian).

How is technology connected to your teaching or learning?

Full citation: Lutz, John Sutton. “Digital Literacy: What Every Graduate Student Needs to Know.” Canadian Historical Association Bulletin (2009): 40-1. [A PDF is currently posted on this blog]

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Nic’s events. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic


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