(Faculty Spotlight is a series of articles focused on highlighting faculty at FHSU that are using technology in interesting ways. Faculty Spotlight is intended to be a monthly series, so check back often to see if your peers are doing any intriguing activities with technology. If you have a faculty member you would like to recommend for Faculty Spotlight, contact Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies at email@example.com.)
Dr. Beth Walizer only took three weeks to redesign her course. Granted she already had considerable training with Blackboard, she still worked hard to change the course over for the Fall 2016 semester. She wasn’t happy with older layout. She wanted “it stream-lined…so there would be no room for guessing.” The old course was like a jigsaw puzzle that had yet to be put together: unorganized and confusing. Dr. Walizer had already tried many of the technologies the university had to offer. “I had used Dyknow, Camtasia, and Blackboard Collaborate,” Walizer explained. Despite the technology enhanced learning tools at Dr. Walizer’s disposal, the course still didn’t successfully communicate her “activity based” approach.
Dr. Walizer teaches Literacy Methods, preparing candidates to teach K-6. Elementary education candidates learn to build a foundation from Dr. Walizer; this foundation includes writing, thinking, listening, speaking, and viewing. Dr. Walizer says she teaches candidates how to help students “learn to read so they can read to learn.” Additionally, Dr. Walizer feels that she should teach her education candidates how to use technology to implement the “theory behind the technology.” Given that Dr. Walizer is keen on activities, this added an extra layer of complexity. So, Dr. Walizer decided to ‘spruce up’ her course with the help of Learning Technologies’ Instructional Designer, Dr. Linda A.
“Linda is like an interior designer,” praised Walizer. Dr. Walzier feels that the overall layout of the course has improved dramatically after working with Linda. “[Linda] translated [the] image to real-life,” said Walizer. “I wanted the course developed before the current semester,” Walizer explained, “I was constantly working.” However, she was able to meet her deadline with many improvements included. Since Dr. Walizer uses activities so heavily, she wanted her course to be self explanatory so it could run as smooth as possible. “[Linda] made it look consistent,” affirmed Walizer. The two worked in tandem to meet the goal of course consistency and technology use. The jigsaw had been completed.
Consistency was not the only improvement from working with Linda. Dr. Walizer implemented some new technologies as well. She uses “a tech blog for apps and websites.” The blog helps students find new technologies. Dr. Walizer also employs Blogger.com. Walizer claims, “the candidates [use the blog] for text readings…[and] to gain experience in using a blog.” Finally, Dr. Walizer uses the new social media plug-in for Blackboard: Yellowdig. She uses Yellowdig for a concept she calls, “ask 3 before me.” The idea is to use Yellowdig as a kind of a Q&A forum. Students can ask other students to help them with a question. If after asking 3 other students yields no results, the student posing the question asks Dr. Walizer. According to Dr. Walizer, it helps them teach themselves and each other.
We were happy to collaborate with Dr. Walizer in redeveloping her course. And we are glad that the technologies we introduced to Dr. Walizer work efficiently in her activity-oriented course.