Teaching Practices & Technology Platforms

Bridging the Gap with Interactive Workshops

By Francesca Socolick
classroom
While the addition of technology into teaching practices is a growing trend in curriculum design, providing support for faculty on effective implementation strategies is becoming an even more critical piece of the equation. According to a recent poll conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Almanac of Higher Education 2014, the top three priorities of higher education IT administrators are to help faculty integrate technology into their teaching; to hire and retain qualified IT staff members; and to provide adequate user support.

Many of the teaching and learning technologies being used or considered by a large number of U.S. colleges are offered at NYU; additionally, several of these services have already been integrated with NYU Classes, the University’s central learning management system. The University continues to expand the breadth of academic technologies available to support technology enhanced education, including an enhanced service model for instructional technology support designed to raise awareness about the services available to faculty, while also fostering collaboration across schools and departments.

Exploring Technology-Enhanced Teaching & Learning

During the fall 2014 semester, NYU Information Technology (IT) teamed up with the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, along with several support partners from across the University to facilitate two interactive workshops centered on various teaching and learning methods using NYU Classes and other NYU IT services. Workshop participants, including faculty members from across various NYU departments and schools, learned about topics such as:

  • Increasing student engagement with clickers
  • Organizing dynamic content for students
  • Designing active learning strategies for fully online courses

In both workshops, participants were encouraged to visit several “specialty stations,” which provided the opportunity to discuss and work on various topics in a collaborative environment. The stations also allowed the workshop facilitator—an instructional designer or educational technologist—to understand each faculty member’s unique pedagogical needs and questions. Ilana Levinson, one of the session facilitators and Manager of Academic Technology Services for Steinhardt IT, observed that, “As a Steinhardt Technologist, it was empowering to collaborate with other University departments and schools.”

The first event was held at the School of Engineering (SoE) campus and included faculty technology support services offered locally by the SoE’s Center for Faculty Innovations in Teaching and Learning (FITL) and ePoly. Approximately 70 faculty participated in the second workshop, which was held at the Kimmel Center and included sessions facilitated by Steinhardt IT and NYU IT. A similar event took place recently at Silver School of Social Work, and another event will be hosted at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in February.

The workshop was designed to support knowledge sharing driven by faculty experience, creating an environment where faculty and instructional technologists could explore different approaches to applying technology to a specific teaching practice or learning objective. One topic that resonated with participants was the balancing act instructors face between successfully delivering content and continually refining their technology-enhanced teaching methods.

Anandi Nagarajan, one of the session facilitators and Senior Instructional Technologist for GLI commented, “It was wonderful meeting so many faculty members who were truly interested in learning how to increase student participation using the online tools available via NYU Classes, particularly the Forums tool.” On the positive outcomes of the workshop, Nagarajan remarked, “There was an overwhelming agreement and interest in optimizing student interaction opportunities in online courses with an emphasis on using sound pedagogical methods to drive the selection, design, and implementation of technology tools. The faculty are invested in making their courses more interactive and it was incredibly useful for them to engage and explore different ways of doing this.”

Yona Jean-Pierre, Director of FITL, stated, “The Center for Faculty Innovations and Teaching and Learning enjoyed the opportunity to hear instructors’ thoughts on the technology, and connect faculty with the departments that coordinate to provide support and access to these tools. We were proud to share the School of Engineering faculty’s success with using NYU Classes to support and streamline their assessment process. FITL looks forward to further observing the new ways faculty are using the technology for teaching and learning.”

Keeping Abreast of Emerging Technologies and Support Resources

NYU IT continues to offer a variety of consultative services to help faculty determine the best methods for integrating technology and media into their lessons and courses. In addition to the consultative services offered through the Digital Studio, NYU IT is now offering walk-in support clinics to meet the growing needs of NYU community members in the use of NYU Web Publishing and NYU Classes.

See the NYU Classes training page for additional support options, or visit the Instructional Technology Support website to view the expanding collection of resources for faculty who want to enhance their courses.

About the Author

Francesca Socolick is an Academic Technology Specialist for ITS’ .edu Services.