Technology to Transform How and What We Teach

In the past year, we’ve made great progress toward becoming a truly Digital University – one that takes advantage of available technology across all aspects of the university experience to help students succeed. To do this, we’ve been working to transform not only how we teach but what we teach, as technology expands the options available for delivering education and changes the skills required of our graduates.

Last year, we developed and provided support for a number of innovative active learning classrooms and expanded our teaching toolset to help instructors who want to optimize learning moments both in and out of class. We also launched, and then expanded, our Digital Literacy Initiative, which explored how integrating digital skills into core classes can help students learn to solve real-world problems using industry standard technologies. In the coming year, our initiatives will continue to address both how and what we teach in order to help our students learn more effectively and use what they learn to build toward professional success.

How We Teach: Adaptive Learning

The Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning is helping faculty begin use of adaptive learning courseware in several undergraduate core classes, including: macro and micro economics, history, political science, psychology and biology. Digital adaptive learning courseware enables students to learn at their own pace and discover individual learning pathways.

The courseware acts a little like the “choose your own adventure” books that became popular in the 80’s and 90’s. The information presented to the learner changes based on how he or she interacts with the material. Built-in assessments track a learner’s progress and can review or provide new material based on performance. For example, in a macroeconomics course, the learner might be asked to demonstrate understanding of supply and demand before being introduced to the concept of elasticity.

The courseware also provides automated and predictive feedback to guide students toward more effective study and alert instructors to the need to intervene. For example, an alert might indicate a student is falling behind in working through course material or might establish the need to take more class time to cover a concept that multiple students are having trouble with.

Faculty are currently creating courses that explore how adaptive materials can be used successfully as part of an APLU Accelerating Adoption of Adaptive Courseware Grant and a Gates Next-Generation Courseware Grant. As use expands, the university will study how adaptive materials can be extended at large-scale to improve student success and increase course completion.

If you are interested in finding out more about the potential of adaptive courseware, attend CETL’s upcoming Adaptive Learning Courseware Fair >

What We Teach: Making

While our Digital Literacy Initiative focused on incorporating technology into core curriculum to provide students experience with solving problems using technology as part of their coursework, co-curricular activities – such as hackathons and maker sessions – can help students expand their problem-solving skills outside of class and build solutions they can demonstrate to employers.

makerspaceTo help students extend learning outside the classroom, we are introducing a new campus makerspace in late Spring 2017. The next-generation lab, which will encourage students to explore, experiment, and experience by building with technology, will be called the EXLab.

As we’ve envisioned what the lab will need to support, students from throughout the university community have helped us determine how the space can meet their needs. EXLab will be open to students from all disciplines, and will provide a space for students to collaborate and innovate with digital-creation tools such as 3D printers, virtual reality headsets, circuit boards, microcontrollers and more. At EXLab, students will be able to do everything from developing prototypes to demonstrate their business ideas to creating virtual reality experiences that provide deeper insight into aspects of their studies, such as dramatizing historical events or designing games based off original story ideas.

EXLab will be located in Arts & Humanities, Room 200 when it opens. Learn More About the New Makerspace >

What are your thoughts? Send Phil a question or comment.