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Faculty Explore Enriching Teaching With Technology

Clickers, iPads and Wikis Among Topics for Learning

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Faculty members learned how to incorporate iPads into their teaching and research in a recent workshop.

By Jill Gambon

With the 21st-century college classroom in a constant state of technological evolution, new applications and devices for research, collaboration and communication are steadily coming on line.  To keep up with the latest innovations, dozens of faculty members spent time over semester break participating in technology development workshops, learning about everything from using iPads in the classroom to best practices for collaborating with Wikis.

The workshop topics reflect what faculty members are interested in learning, says Prof. Susan Braunhut, chair of the Faculty Development Steering Committee, a co-sponsor of series. Workshop participants demonstrated a commitment to advancing their teaching and scholarship, she says.

“As an educator, professional development is so important,” says Clinical Asst. Prof. Michelle Scribner-MacLean, who led a workshop on using iPads in the classroom with instructional technology specialist Randy Tyndall.  “The training is very collegial. As colleagues, we can share ideas and experiences.”

Scribner-MacLean, who teaches in the Graduate School of Education, has seen iPads make a significant impact in the classroom and on scholarly research since they hit the market three years ago. With an ever-growing number of applications available for the platform, educators can use the iPads to differentiate instruction, she says.
“You can focus on different applications for different learners,” she says.

Javier Horta, a lecturer in physiological and organic chemistry, led a workshop on using clickers that attracted about a dozen faculty participants. He demonstrated how he uses the hand-held devices in his class to take attendance, pose questions and give tests. The devices, he says, are an effective tool in engaging students and gauging their understanding of the material in real time.
“I can tailor a lecture on the spot based on the students’ responses to the questions that I ask,” he says.

Other workshops covered such topics as using the Blackboard learning management system and other classroom technology, web conferencing and Turnitin, a cloud-based service for improving student writing.

In addition to the Faculty Development Committee, the workshops were sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Information Technology in collaboration with the Division of Online and Continuing Education and the Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services.

"Our faculty are deeply committed to the student experience," says Donna Mellen, manager of academic technology development & e-Learning.  "Faculty leaders have been key to the success of the workshops. The Office of the Provost has been instrumental in identifying faculty leaders to host the workshops, provide an academic focus and promote best practices."