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March 18, 2002

Conference to examine IT teaching possibilites

Donna Price is communications coordinator for ITD.


Significant breakthroughs in communications technology, along with the integration of information technology tools into the academic environment, are transforming higher education. Whether it’s simply by using course management tools like BlackBoard to ease the burden of administrative functions, or by actually altering instructional practices, faculty are increasingly tapping into the use of information technology tools and resources to enhance teaching and learning.

To examine these trends, education technology leaders from Emory, Carl Berger from the University of Michigan, and interested faculty, staff and students are coming together March 25–26 for Emory’s first conference on academic technology, “EduCATE: A Forum for Teaching with Technology.”

Organized by CIO and Vice Provost for Information Technology Donald Harris and the Information Technology Division (ITD), the conference will showcase innovative teaching practices using instructional technology in the university environment. An interdisciplinary roster of Emory faculty will lead the conference sessions.

“My first reason to hold the EduCATE conference is to celebrate,” Harris said. “We have a number of faculty who are using information technology resources in very creative ways to enrich the educational experience for our students. As a result, our institutional goal of striving for excellence in teaching is being achieved. It is an honor for me to showcase what these faculty are doing and celebrate their work.

“Of course,” Harris added, “these faculty don’t act alone in their development and use of IT resources. Thus, an accompanying objective is to show how partnerships between faculty and IT professionals help achieve our institutional goal. My second reason is to provide a venue where faculty and IT professionals throughout the institution can meet and interact on topics of common interest.”

Berger, who specializes in science and instructional technology education and is director of Advanced Academic Technologies at Michigan’s Collaboratory for Advanced Research and Academic Technologies, will be the keynote and opening plenary session speaker.

“I’m involved in some very exciting projects, three of which come to mind immediately,” Berger said. “One is a general project we’re doing here, looking at the future to try to provide what I call the next ‘Killer App.’”

The second, Berger said, is a research project he has been involved with since 1971 that attempts to determine what students are actually doing when they use technology and on devising evaluation techniques to measure learning.

A new version of a tool used in that research, the Event Recorder, will be published soon and made available through Berger’s third initiative: the Next Generation Visible Human Project (VHP). VHP is a National Library of Medicine initiative that created a complete digital archive of three-dimensional representations of the human male and female for use by medical students and researchers.

What does Berger see happening with academic technology in the next five to 10 years? At the EduCATE conference, he will be leading a segment titled “Back to the Future” that anticipates the evolution of course-management systems toward a greater emphasis on pedagogy rather than simply on easing administrative duties.

“I hope to see lots of active conversation between faculty, IT professionals and others,” Harris said of his goals for the conference. “I’m sure much of this will be focused on what technology is being used and how one can incorporate this technology in their classes. But past that, I hope the conference will allow participants to establish or strengthen relationships that might lead to collaborative or interdisciplinary opportunities.

“If we in the IT area are able to provide opportunities for faculty to meet and develop these interests,” Harris said, “then we have provided a valuable service to Emory.”

The conference is free and open to the public. The deadline to register is March 19. For more information or to register online, visit the conference website at