Program transforms teaching by incprporating technology

Transforming Teaching with Technology, a St. John’s grant program also known as T3 which launched its third year this October, hopes to close the gap between teaching and new technology.

The program’s goals are to revise the core curriculum to incorporate technology and to familiarize the faculty with using technology, such as electronic whiteboards.
Those participating will learn about information and research literacy, technology, critical thinking, and how to incorporate all these into the courses they are teaching.

In addition to learning about new technology, the faculty will familiarize themselves with laptops, which enable them to make use of other programs like Microsoft PowerPoint.

“We have trained about 30 faculty, and are in the process of training 17 more this year,” said T3 project coordinator Bradley Shope.

He added,”By the time the program is over, we will have directly worked with between 50-55 faculty. We anticipate that, in the end, this program will enhance the learning experience of students.”

Shope is part of a three-person team also comprised of Maura Flannery director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and the program’s co-director, and Pelham Mead, educational technology specialist.

This year, Mead introduced podcasting to faculty in addition to electronic whiteboards.

Podcast, which is the combination of the words iPod and broadcast, is a digital recording of audio or video that is made available to download on the Internet via an RSS feed.

“I do think it’s good to explore at least some aspects of technology, not only because it is becoming so influential, but because it gives one a sense of accomplishment when technology is mastered,” Flannery said.

Professors involved in the program feel optimistic about the effects of T3.

“Students felt more comfortable and participated much more during class discussions when I was able to ‘sit down’ with them around a cluster of tables rather than standing in front of them or behind a podium,” said Professor Frank Cantelmo in a University press release.

Cantelmo, who teaches Scientific Inquiry and participated in T3 during its first year, uses a wireless laser pointer to control PowerPoint presentations while having the freedom to move around the class and interact with students.

Because of new technology, two classes on the Queens and Staten Island campuses have been playing virtual checkers.

Using PowerPoint and an image of a checkerboard, students from one campus asked questions from the textbook while the other campus’ students gave answers. If they are correct they can move forward one space.

T3 is made possible due to a $1.5 million grant given by the U.S Dept. of Education’s Strengthening Institutions Title III program.

“Title III has come a long way in the past 2 years,” said T3 project coordinator Bradley Shope.

The 15 faculty members who are participating in T3 will have to complete several tasks before September 2008.

They will participate in one-on-one tutoring sessions, and help develop presentations and workshops which will be used for a future forum that will discuss the success of the program.

“The group workshops are training sessions where we have a qualified faculty member speak to the Title III faculty on a specific topic related to teaching. Some of the session topics are: critical thinking, information literacy, and WebCt 6,” Shope said.

They will have also have to attend two, three-day technology camps in January and May, which according to Shope, will be “an opportunity for the faculty to re-evaluate their teaching strategies in the classroom, and begin revising a course to include more technology or active learning.”