Last Friday I was able to attend the Teaching & Technology Expo, an event put on as an extension of the W&M E-Learning Community. The Expo featured faculty and staff experts to help answer your questions about various educational technologies — everything from iPad presentations to blogging to flipping the classroom. The Expo was well attended and there was hardly a quiet moment at any of the tables.
When I wasn’t walking around on the floor, I was helping out over at the blogs table. I got to talk to folks from all parts of the College — the professional schools, VIMS, and arts & sciences. It was nice to see such a mix of people from all over the College, and that reinforced to me the importance of developing a sense of community within W&M about academic technology. Being able to talk to others who use these technologies was a great opportunity!
Not only was it fun to talk to the attendees who came by with questions and comments for the blogs table, but the volunteers staffing the tables had a lot to say. A few of things that I learned about that I’m interested to explore more in my own teaching:
- Blackboard In-Line Grading: There’s a new Blackboard tool that allows you to mark up documents from inside Blackboard. Being able to comment on student papers without having to download them first, save them as PDFs and then upload them back to Blackboard will save me a lot of hassle when doing paperless grading!
- iPad Recordings: I’d seen some of these mentioned at one of the previous e-learning community meetings, and they still look like interesting classroom tools. Doceri is an app that turns your iPad screen into a virtual whiteboard. You can use it to record a screencast, or, I’m guessing that if you hooked up your iPad to a classroom projector, you could write “live” during class for students. I like the idea of being able to face students while writing on the board, rather than turning your back on them, as well as the ability to mark up images. I tend to teach using images a lot, and being able to interact with them by marking on them would be great!
- Wikis: I’ve used a wiki in the classroom before, but I got some new ideas on how to use them — for example, having a project that spans multiple semesters, with students adding to it each semester (that would be a nice way to showcase student research, too!), and annotated bibliographies. I think that the bibliographies would be especially helpful in a course where students do a semester-long research project — they could share ideas for sources, as well as make wiki pages for each reading we do, creating a bibliography for the course. Collecting together this information could be a helpful resource for all the students in the course as well as help me see what students are getting out of various readings.
- Free Web-Conferencing Solutions: Those featured were Facetime, Google Hangout, and Skype. I’ve toyed with the idea of using Google Hangout with students before for virtual office hours, or even meeting with students in a small group, if working on a group project. The great thing about Google Hangout, I learned, is that all W&M students already have access to it via their WMApps accounts. I’ve also heard of faculty using it (and Skype) to “invite” guest speakers to their class.
All of these things allow you to enhance your teaching, and lets you to help students learn better. The Expo was a great way to learn more about technologies that I was already familiar with, and connect with other folks who used them, as well as learn about new things I’m not as familiar with. If you missed it, or if you would like to get more information on any of the handouts you saw, you can check out the list here.
[This post has been cross-posted and can also be found over at W&M’s E-Learning Blog.]