Collaborative Training Helps Faculty, Staff
and Students Stay on Top of the Technology Curve
By Neal Burdick ’72
Sometimes I think Ned Ludd had it right. He and his band of vandals,
dubbed “Luddites,” stormed around England in the early
19th century, smashing up machinery in a quixotic attempt to undo the
Industrial Revolution. Whenever my computer doesn’t do what I
want it to, and I can’t figure out why, I’m tempted to
put a sledgehammer through it, Ned-like.
So I’m not the easiest of “tech” students. But when
I sat in unannounced at the second of a series of three “Wednesday
Workshop” sessions one snowy March morning, Instructional Technology
Coordina-tor Jim Forney made me feel welcome as he patiently brought
me up to speed. It was clear that his overarching attitude was to make
accessible what might seem arcane.
Our classes are hands-on,” he said. “You’ll retain
things better if you do them yourself than if you watch me do them.” In
moments I found myself tapping merrily away on a laptop and zipping
my cursor here and there, using Dreamweaver to build a “mini-Web
site” for the
St. Lawrence Seaway, complete with tables, maps, Canadian and Ameri-can
flags, and pictures. My fellow students were a development officer,
a science librarian and a secretary in mathematics, computer science
and statistics. I got befuddled only a couple of times—not bad
for a neo-Luddite.
These workshops are open to faculty, staff and students,” Forney
says. “We’re trying to help people keep up with new developments
that could affect how they do their work.”
The Wednesday Workshops are but one part of a multi-pronged initiative
to provide technical training on campus. It’s a collaborative
effort shared by the Division of Instruc-tional Technology’s
department of information technology (IT) and the Center for Teaching
and Learning (CTL), according to Director of Instructional Technology
Sondra Smith. That collaboration, Smith adds, came about at the urging
of Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and founding director of the
CTL Kim Mooney.
It isn’t just IT staff who do the training, Smith
pointed out in prepared remarks to the Academic Affairs Subcommittee
of the Board
of Trustees in 2002. “We learned early on that the faculty-to-faculty
model for technology training could have a tremendous impact on campus,” she
said. “We recognized that faculty had something important to
say about their experiences with technology in the classroom, and that
their colleagues were eager to listen to that voice of experience.”
fact, records indicate that the first-ever collaborative faculty development
event along these lines was a fall 2000 PowerPoint seminar
in which several faculty shared ideas about how they apply this technology
in class. That was followed in spring 2001 by a Black-board colloquium
(the software, not the expanse in the front of the room that professors
used to scribble on with chalk) in which faculty in modern languages,
psychology, education and English demonstrated how Black-board technology
was applicable to their pedagogies. In both cases, presentations by
faculty on why they use the technology were followed by training in
how to use the technology—the preferred model for a faculty technology
development program centered on pedagogy.
Stimulated by the success
of these ventures, IT/CTL collaboration has grown so that a look at
today’s list of offerings reveals:
* Tuesday TechBreaks, noontime technology demonstrations.
* Wednesday Workshops, office productivity training open to faculty,
staff and students.
* Faculty Technology Spotlight Series, highlighting faculty use of
technology in teaching, learning or research.
* Faculty Technology Festival, an annual January event.
* Instructional Technology liaison hours (one-on-one consultation).
* Faculty Project Lab, multimedia computer, scanner, and color printer
available “24/7” at the CTL.
* Back to Basics Technology Workshops for Faculty.
With this schedule, it’s plain to see that technology training
is thriving on the St. Lawrence campus. And with the number of faculty
members who are using information technology in a significant way
having tripled, from 12% to 36%, in three years—roughly the
life of the CTL—it’s plain to see it’s working.