July 6, 2010

Teaching tech tools to faculty

A summer workshop series, developed by Emory’s Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT), is helping faculty, staff and graduate students use PowerPoint and Prezi, comprehend Blackboard’s new look and craft three-minute digital shorts — all in an effort to keep students engaged in learning.

“If the outside world is not impacting the classroom, we’re missing an incredible opportunity,” says ECIT Director Wayne Morse. “ECIT will make the transition as painless as possible and we’ll be there to support faculty and staff so they can focus on content."

”ECIT’s free summer offerings teach faculty and staff at all levels of technology proficiency how to use online tools, such as wikis and blogs, to encourage round-the-clock collaboration. Classes introduce participants to new tools intended to make their lives easier and classroom experiences more enjoyable this fall. Examples include SafeAssign, a free plagiarism evaluation service provided by Blackboard, and Personal Response Systems, also known as clickers, used to conduct in-class polling. Each class typically lasts 90 minutes and is held in an ECIT classroom in the Woodruff Library.

ECIT also hosts informative discussions, presentations and workshops throughout the year on instructional technologies. About a quarter of College faculty have been involved in Emory College Online, a program offering hands-on training and highly individualized teaching techniques. ECIT’s Teaching, Pedagogy, and Curriculum initiative shows graduate students how technologies, such as iTunes, digital video and audio, can serve their pedagogical goals.

Admittedly low-tech, Kali-Ahset Amen, an instructor and doctoral candidate in sociology, participated in the program to add a multimedia dimension to her “World Inequality and Underdevelopment” course last spring. Her students used iPods to record interviews with farmers and non-governmental agency representatives, and narrated digital stories complete with photographs and news clips.

“I look at ECIT as my satellite office,” she says. “They were so helpful in reinforcing my knowledge and abilities.”

ECIT also is on hand to help faculty and staff across campus navigate the recent face-lift of Blackboard, a core academic application at Emory. Classes this summer will teach participants how to use Blackboard’s new Grade Center, along with exploring additional functions, such as how to create tests, surveys, question pools, groups and assignments.

“Faculty members are really attempting to stay one step ahead and make sure they have the proper technology incorporated in the classroom to achieve their goals,” says Chris Fearrington, ECIT coordinator. “We recommend faculty take baby steps. We never encourage them to overhaul everything at once.”

Similarly, while many students gained exposure to digital tools in high school, they don’t all have the same comfort level, explains Amen. She suggests giving students ample time to become familiar with these new formats and outline course expectations early on.

“Adapting to the technology was tough for them initially,” she adds. “But in the end it got rave reviews.”

Digital Storytelling: Examples from faculty participants

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Related Information

  • Upcoming ECIT courses

    · New BlackBoard-Intro to Version 9:
      July 20, 10:30 a.m.; July 29, 11 a.m.

    · Bb9 Tests, Surveys and Pools: July 21, 10:30 a.m.; Aug. 3, 1 p.m.

    · Using Web 2.0 Applications to Engage the Millennials: July 22, 10 a.m.

    · Bb9 Groups and Assignments:
    July 27, 1:30 p.m.

    · Bb9 New Grade Center-Basic: Aug. 4, 11 a.m.

    · Using Clickers as a Tool for Student Engagement: Aug. 4, 1 p.m.

    · Engaging Students with Digital Stories: Aug. 10, 1 p.m.

    · Wikis & Blogs-A Hands-On Introduction: Aug. 11, 10:30 a.m., ECIT Classroom 214

    The following courses are free to Emory faculty, staff and graduate students, and held in Woodruff Library, ECIT Classroom 215 unless otherwise noted. Register here.