Monday, November 2, 2009

The Seed of an Idea: Education, Technology & Innovation

For several years JCCC has set aside 1% of its Information Technology Plan (ITP) budget to fund the Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) program. Faculty members may apply for a grant which is “designed to assist JCCC faculty with the acquisition of technical hardware and software, which fosters innovation in instruction. This process has been created to help make possible and expedite technological innovations that improve learning at JCCC.” Not all of the grant applications have been funded and some proposals have been funded wholly or partially out of other college resources besides TIG funds. One benefit of the program is that it brings to light instructional needs that while not funded through TIG, need to be funded within the institutional budget.

Some of the funded projects have included the acquisition of an iTouch mobile device for a faculty member teaching in the Interactive Media program, several Kindles for faculty in the Reading program, Camtasia Studio, handheld camcorders and wireless Wacom tablets for 35 faculty in a pilot project to develop tutorials for classroom/online use, PDAs for Nursing faculty to try out software for their curriculum, assembling equipment for an Archaeological Field School, the addition of three “Cones of Silence” for use by students viewing media in the Library and a 3D printer for the Drafting Department to enable students to visually create a 3D model from CADD drawings. The last two projects are detailed in a recent Technology Brown Bag session (see or ).

Sometimes there’s a scarcity of faculty proposals for TIG funds. I suspect that one reason is that technological innovation doesn’t always require funds, hardware or software. With faculty creativity and access to a wide range of free web 2.0 or rich internet applications (RIAs), sometimes no institutional funding is required.

When funding is required, where does the seed of an idea come from? We’ve encouraged brainstorming of ideas during Technology Brown Bag sessions and JCCC faculty members are always invited to visit with a staff member in the Educational Technology Center (ETC) to discuss possible instructional technology projects (and not just for TIG proposals).

As an additional brainstorming opportunity, TechNews shares information about webinars, Web 2.0 tools and ideas that could provide the seed of an idea for a TIG proposal.

Recently I asked colleagues on the New Media Consortium subscribers list (JCCC is a NMC member) for classroom innovations from their institutions. Here are a few of the responses.
Edward Lee Lamoureux (Associate Professor in the Interactive Media Program and Department of Communication at Bradley University) teaches a course entirely (100%) in Second Life (see ). His initial motivation was to find a distance learning environment that would support audio interaction with his students. Edward teaches “Introduction to Field Research in Virtual Worlds” in second life, a three-week intersession course at Bradley U. You can hear an audio interview about his experiences teaching in SL at .

Pamela Gades (Instructional Technology Specialist, University of Minnesota, Morris) reported that an organic chemistry professor is using Camtasia Relay to record “pre-lab lectures” for her students and posting them on her course web site and on iTunes U. Students are required to view the pre-lab lectures before attending the weekly organic chemistry labs. The instructor creates the videos in her office using an iMac. Camtasia Relay is available at JCCC too and can be run on either a Macintosh or Windows PC. More information on JCCC’s Camtasia Relay pilot will be available by late-November. The instructor at UM-Morris uses humor and stories while infusing her sessions with lots of encouragement and real-life application of the topics.

Damon E. Betlow (Academic Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology) reported that RIT has created a Teaching & Learning Technology Studio (similar to JCCC’s Learning Studio) which allows instructors to try out new technologies in a safe, supported environment. The classroom features:
  • 25 student tablet PCs
  • An instructor tablet PC and stylus-enabled monitor
  • Collaboration and Faculty Monitoring System for the tablets (DyKnow Vision and Monitor)
  • Student Response System (iClicker)
  • Multiple Digital Projection Systems (3 screens that allow for widescreen content or 3 separate sources)
  • Flexible Seating Design
  • Remote Pan/Tilt Video capture capability
  • Audio conferencing capability through room’s sound system (remote microphones and ceiling speakers)

RIT is looking into adding an interactive whiteboard, instructor-controlled lecture capture and/or live streaming, as well as videoconferencing capability. For more information, visit .

So, if you have an idea for a TIG, stop by the ETC and talk with the Center’s staff about your idea. Maybe we can help you flesh it out.

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