July 23, 2001
ECIT tames technology for professors
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
Many of the professors Sandra Butler meets are strangers to technology.
They use a computer to check e-mail, maybe for some word processing, and
thats about it. Still, technology has the power to transform everyones
livesat least thats the word around campus, if not in every
TV commercial or newspaper ad.
So when faculty members step into Emorys Center for Interactive
Teaching, Butlers first responsibility is to put technology in perspective.
We tell them that technology is only a tool, said Butler,
educational analyst for the professional schools. Its another
method of delivery for your course materials.
ECIT, which is part of the Information Technology Divi-sion, is located
in the Center for Library and Information Resources (CLAIR) on the second
floor of Woodruff Librarya right turn from the reference desk. The
center consists of three areas: a series of web development stations,
a digital content production suite and an interactive classroom.
Faculty members are welcome to use ECITs state-of-the-art equipment
as well as reserving the interactive classroom.
In the classroom we partner with faculty to experiment with teaching
methods and use it to teach the teachers about technology
as a part of pedagogy, said ECIT Director Wayne Morse.
They are never left alone, which is the beauty of having a place
like ECIT, Butler said. Its a place where faculty can
leave their office, leave interruptions and come into an environment that
has not just all the resources they needhardware and softwarebut
Butler is one of seven educational analysts, each of whom is responsible
for servicing a different part of the University.
The students are the beneficiaries, because classes seem to be
moving away from being solely instructor-centered to more learner-centered,
Butler continued. The students are engaged more, and they take control
over their learning when they have web-enhanced interactive modules.
To make the creation of these interactive modules easier, ECIT utilizes
a course management system called Blackboard. It allows faculty members
to place materials online without needing to know HTML (Hyper-text Markup
Language), the programming language for the web.
Blackboard is password-protected, giving professors a secure environment
with which to conduct online testing and offer students easy access to
materials that once were either remarkably difficult to obtain or frustrating
For instance, an English class can view eight different versions of scenes
from Hamlet, including a ballet. A medical student can see, in real time,
the proper procedure for testing the flexibility of an infants hip
bonescomplete with instructor narration.
Those are just two examples. Others include digital audio and video technology
allowing students access to Arabic speech and music, and a website construction
project that teamed history graduate students with a university in Augsburg,
Not only does this positively affect the students learning experiences,
but professors, too, can expand their horizons.
What were looking forward to is linking all humanities courses,
said English Professor Harry Rusche. Rusche is director of Emory College
Online and a longtime proponent of ECIT. So I might have access
to a history course if I need material, and vice versa.
That plan is still on the drawing board but would be easy to implement
Rusche posts his lectures to his class site, then asks students for questions
about the material. This way, a much larger amount of class time is spent
on discussion rather than straight lecture.
According to Butler, this is a teaching process that is gaining momentum
Everyday we get one or to new faculty who are interested in adding
an online learning module to complement their traditional teaching environments,
No doubt about it, Black-boards penetration on campus is exploding.
At the beginning of summer 2000, 12 classes were posted online. By the
beginning of fall, there were about 115. At the start of this summer,
content for more than 350 classes was posted to Emorys Blackboard
In the past year weve had more than 200 faculty come through
the center to attend a workshop or some other type of session to deal
with multimedia and technology in their teaching, said Jason Lemon,
ECITs educational analyst for the humanities.
This summer the School of Theology, through its summer technology institute,
is working with ECIT to pair up students and faculty for a three-week
series of daily, four-hour sessions. Its the first time any of Emorys
professional schools has embarked on a summer technology-training course.
The Emory College Online Summer Training Program, which the theology
school used as its model, is now in its fifth year and showing no signs
of slowing down.
Faculty members interested in contacting ECIT can do so by phone at 4047276708
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The centers website is www.ecit.emory.edu.