Tooling Around

by Carol L. Robinson (

I teach college level English courses (composition, early British literature, medieval literature, film and literature,…). I have been a 100% online Distance Educator for three years, but I have been working with technology (as supplement to classroom teaching) for much longer than that (roughly 25 years). I have found that, even when one is not teaching a Distance Education course, such tools can be useful (or not) for instruction. For me, always, the central question is this: are my course structure and needs controlling my teaching tools (and gimmicks), or are my teaching tools (and gimmicks) controlling my course structure and needs? Be it proprietary software or non-proprietary software, technology can be limiting, particularly if the instructor is limited by her knowledge of ways to manipulate technology. But the intention of technology is to liberate (even if it is proprietary). Thus, it becomes an exploration of what one can do with what is available (free, open source, or proprietary) even with the technological support of an expert (who has no clue as to how to teach your discipline). It becomes, in other words, an issue of control. The below video is a short exploration of tools and/or gimmicks that are available for online instruction. I see it as a beginning of a theme I intend to explore in greater depth with future posts.