Byte-size teaching

Technology is changing the nature of teaching & learning. If you think that the Internet is somewhere “out there” and the classroom is “in here,” you might want to drop by UIndy for a look at the college education of 2010.

Today, the distinction between classroom instruction and online activity is blurring. What’s more, faculty are integrating technological tools such as interactive  whiteboards, response “clickers,” and virtual presentations with their traditional course lectures. Consider this: In Kate DeCleene’s occupational therapy classes, students take a quiz over their homework at the start of class using clickers (remote devices that allow them to respond to the questions projected on a screen by pressing buttons on a hand-held keypad).  The results can be tabulated instantly and displayed in color charts that show the instructor—and the class—how well prepared they are for the discussion.

Linda Biggers, director of UIndy’s Physical Therapy Assistant program, uses clickers to assess whether lectures are getting through to students.  “You don’t have to wait for that first big exam to find out that they don’t get it,” she says.

Technology is enabling students to:
—develop group projects by collaborating via the Internet
—hear and replay a lecture a professor has taped
—sit in class and learn from a guest speaker in another state
—do a team presentation even when one member of the group is out of town (no big deal—just conference her in)
—meet with professors in a virtual environment
—share documents online
—view an experiment on YouTube together when the professor gets to that part of the lecture.

Do these so-called Web 2.0 technologies make a difference, or are they merely the latest educational gimmicks? UIndy professors who use them are convinced they’re very effective when integrated well with traditional methods.

And a survey of students conducted by business professor Kathy Bohley ’91 ’92 ’94 revealed that students spend more than twice the amount of time preparing for class when using Web 2.0 technologies than they do using just the assigned textbook. Students reported spending more time with insightful videos, useful online articles, and interactive learning tools that help them prepare for classroom discussions.

To give you a better feel for the melding of virtual teaching and learning with traditional methods, we turned to Associate Professor John Somers, director of Graduate Programs in the School of Education; Visiting Assistant Professor Lynn Wheeler; and instructional technology support specialist Razin Bouzar ’08. Somers and Wheeler have incorporated several of these high-tech strategies into iLead, a master’s program that prepares K-12 teachers to become effective administrators. Seven such strategies are explained on the following pages—and you’ll find a brief glossary, too, in case you don’t speak Web.

These future principals and district administrators, employed as teachers by day, are using the latest technologies not just to facilitate their graduate education but also to relate better to their own students and to learn how to use these strategies in their schools and classrooms. —Jen Huber