Going Beyond the Basics at Marianopolis
At Marianopolis, the question is not whether technology should be in the classroom, it’s about what kind of technology should be in the classroom. By its nature, information technology is in constant evolution. Because Marianopolis is a relatively small school, we can stay flexible and adapt to the needs of faculty wanting to use varied technology.
We definitely want to get away from the approach of “here’s our project and here’s what we would like you to do with it.
We have learned that technology in the classroom has to be delivered as a team-based approach. As such we are formalizing relationships between the many pedagogical resources at the school and information technology services (ITS). At the beginning of each term we identify potential technology integration projects of interest and build a team around them. They’re coordinated jointly through the Office of the Dean and ITS. They’re small in number and in general this kind of arrangement works well. To be honest, it’s the ad hoc stuff that comes up outside of that envelope that’s harder to deal with, but we find resources for those as well, although it’s a little tougher!
Air Sketch Explained!
We definitely want to get away from the approach of “here’s our project and here’s what we would like you to do with it.” A good example is our iPad pilot project this year. Four or five teachers were lent an iPad for the summer. They had an opportunity to play with it and to get a feel for what it could do. These were already teachers who had certain requirements related to annotating PowerPoints in a lecture setting.
This iPad project was based on discussions with key teachers and interacting with their departments. Once the teachers were identified, the project was formalized, and we put the iPads in the teachers’ hands. As a result of this project, we will now have to make a couple of modifications to our network to allow Air Sketch to work. AirSketch is an iPad app that allows the teacher to draw or digitally annotate a pdf on the iPad’s screen, and then to relay that annotated version through a web browser to a classroom computer so that it can be displayed for the students in real-time on the projection screen. This is not possible within the normal wireless environment, so we have to create a small VLAN, and populate the teachers into that small network so they’ll be able to login using a special account.
One project that I’m very excited about this year is a new SMART PodiumTM interactive pen display from SMART Technologies. It’s like a an interactive whiteboard packed into a unit which is the size of a Wacom Tablet. The SMART interface is quite interesting because it allows for on-the-fly annotation of whatever material you’re displaying. Effectively it’s a digital screen that takes monitor output from the computer, allows the teacher to interact with it and from there it goes to the projector. The teachers can see what they’re doing on their screen as they do overlays. As an example, for an art history teacher, looking at very fine details of paintings, this becomes an extremely useful tool.
In my view, technology integration is a long term perspective. We now have a projector; a podium, a computer, a DVD player and even the old VHS player in every teaching classroom in this college. So when you say using technology, for me I’m looking beyond what we consider our baseline.
How do we ensure that we’re providing teachers with what they want to use beyond the basics?