Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tempel Summer Institute 2007

We recently completed our eighth annual TSI workshop for 10 faculty, conducted over a period of 7 full days. The title of the hands-on workshop was "New Ideas for Designing a Course that Incorporates Technology to Enhance Student Learning". Five members of our Instructional Technology Team provided instruction (Chris, Diane, Mark, Marisa, Janet and myself), with two other members of our team (Don and Newell) providing hardware and software tech support. Members of the library's Research Support Team also spoke on reference assistance, information literacy, and copyright issues (always a favorite topic!)

We conducted the workshop in a large computer lab, with dual projection, both from a Mac and a PC. Each faculty member had a computer to use, this year we had 7 PCs and 3 Macs, in the past few years it's been about 50/50.

Two faculty experts on pedagogy, Stephen Loomis and Eugene Gallagher, started off the workshop with a day mostly devoted to pedagogical concepts and course design. Chris and Diane also gave faculty an overview of ConnCourse (our name for WebCT) and the technologies we would be using in the course. I attended the first day to learn more about pedagogy, and to be available to answer technical questions.

I have to admit I'm mentally exhausted by the end of the school year, so I was not looking forward to working twelve days in a row without a day off. But right after commencement is the best time to get faculty before they leave for the summer. The timing also allows us a full summer of catching up on old work, starting new projects, office cleanups, and vacations, without a major interruption. So we march when we have to, and I managed to find the resources, day by day, to perform what I hope was a good job.

One thing I realized, by the end of the institute, is how competent our faculty are in the areas of teaching and pedagogy. Running a technology lab with scanners, audio and video editing equipment, and lots of technology, I often see faculty in a state inexperienced in these matters. Not seeing these individuals in their teaching environments, it's an unfortunate human tendency to generalize any lack of knowledge or understanding of technology to other areas. This workshop gave me a good opportunity to see faculty in their own natural teaching/learning worlds, and gave me a better understanding and appreciation of their skills.

One of the main purposes of the institue is to increase faculty's understanding and appropriate use of technology. So, over a period of time, their overall experience level in these areas has been increasing, as by now over 80 faculty have gone through the institute. And, of course, some of them are ahead of us in some areas of specialized technology.

This year, for the first time, we introduced podcasting, wikis, blogs, iPods videoconferencing, and the concepts of Web 2.0 and Social Software. I'll write a few posts on my involvement with these, although many other topics were covered. Considerable more preparation was required for this year's Institute, due to the introduction of these new technologies, all in the same week. Looking back on it all, it was well worth it.

Here is a LINK to the nice brochure Janet Hayes made for the Institute (880k).

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