Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Instructional Tools

A variety of tools can be used in the classroom to support student learning, ranging from traditional to high-tech options. Examples include the whiteboard, index cards, posters, audience response systems (e.g. clicker technology), Google collaboration tools, 3D printing, and wikis. Depending on course learning goals and outcomes, instructors may choose to use one or several of these tools to augment the teaching and learning environment in their classroom. In addition to the tabs below, Yale also offers Lecture Recordings, opportunities to produce Video Lessons or Video and Audio Clips, and support for use of Canvas @ Yale.

Obtaining formative feedback in the classroom is a powerful ingredient for supporting student learning. Through audience response systems instructors can know in real-time the degree to which students understand concepts, and can nuance strategies to ensure that students engage in higher-order thinking around course material.
Posters are tools that enable visualization in the classroom to foster student learning. Cognitive science supports the visual display of information as useful for student learning, and posters provide an opportunity to pair visual learning with textbook reading, lecture, and traditional homework assignments. As such, posters are often created by students to display a significant course project, developing research, or a particular perspective for class to consider.
The index or note card can support learning in the classroom by helping instructors gather names, prior knowledge, misconceptions, and more. Through well-planned activities, instructors can gather formative feedback on student progress towards achieving particular learning outcomes, as well as obtain other useful information on their students.
Open educational resources (OER) include textbooks, classroom modules, lesson plans, video content, and other media that are freely accessible, openly licensed, and adaptable for instructional use. “OER” signals, in addition to resources, wider dissemination of educational content that prompts new approaches to teaching. A variety of OERs exist for instructors to consider as they seek to provide more resources, active instruction, and lower costs.
Through Google tools like Drive, Docs, and Slides, students can collaborate on content and activities, which educational research and sociocultural theory suggest can positively influence their learning. These tools host activities like brainstorming, peer review, resource sharing, and live chat.
Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) forms are used in higher education to engage students with assessment. Students consider a question, choose a response, and scratch off answers like a lottery ticket until the correct answer is revealed. IF-AT forms ensure that students leave class knowing the correct answer choice, a form of immediate feedback known to support learning. IF-AT forms have also been shown to reduce test anxiety.
3D printing enjoys increasing adoption from instructors in higher education. Students can better observe features on 3D objects, examine replicas of inaccessible or fragile artifacts and art work, and even design and create their own models. Research suggests that verbal learning integrated with physical exploration of actual models may enhance learning while reducing students' cognitive loads.
Virtual reality (VR) immersive technologies “support the creation of synthetic, highly interactive three dimensional (3D) spatial environments that represent real or non-real situations” (Mikropoulos and Natsis, 2010). Pedagogically, VR can be appropriate for course material in which students benefit from 3D spatial representation where they can interact with the learning environment, construct knowledge, and engage in meaningful learning.
The learning management system Canvas contains various features and apps that can bolster learner participation and engagement through community building and multiple modes of communication. Using Canvas features and apps for online discussions can also be a suitable way to build an inclusive classroom community.
Chalkboards and whiteboards are arguably the most iconic tools associated with teaching. Research suggests that students learn better by having information presented through multiple modalities, especially through visual means, and boards are perhaps the simplest visual teaching tool. Additionally, boards support active learning, as instructors can use boards to engage students individually and via groups with problem-solving and brainstorming activities.
Through open source writing, students write and edit on a public digital platform geared towards an audience. Research indicates that open source writing can promote experiential learning; collaborative skills; critical thinking about evidence, sources, and biases; and increased appreciation for knowledge construction, access, and preservation.