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Enhancing Productivity in Teaching through Use of Instructional Technology

June 24, 2010

The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) supports the academic mission of Duke University by helping faculty and students find innovative ways of using technology in order to achieve their teaching goals. Drawing on expertise in both technology and pedagogy, the CIT staff assists instructors with projects, shares information across the University about effective practices, and examines the effects of technology on teaching and learning. Dr. Hugh Crumley, Instructional Technology Specialist and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Education, has been working with CIT and the Graduate School, specifically, for four years. He teaches courses that demonstrate the ways graduate students can integrate instructional technology into their teaching. He also leads programs and workshops that teach skills related to college teaching and technology.

In response to graduate students’ expressed interest in learning more about the role instructional technology can play in their academic lives in regards to time management and organizational skills, gaining proficiency in programs such as Blackboard and PowerPoint, creating Web sites, and examining the pros and cons of integrating technology into the classroom, Hugh discusses several opportunities offered through CIT that arm students with a multitude of skills at every stage of their career at Duke and beyond. CIT offers frequent stand-alone workshops on a wide range of teaching and technology topics throughout the year, such as how to develop an electronic teaching portfolio, Web design for course Web sites, and how to prepare a dissertation or thesis for electronic submission using templates provided by the Graduate School. These workshops, Hugh notes, are available on request for departments or graduate student groups. Workshop series, single stand-alone sessions, and individual consultation are available as well. A comprehensive list of workshop topics is available here.

In addition to workshops, Hugh teaches two courses offered by the Graduate School and CIT. GS 301 College Teaching & Visual Communication covers visual communication for teaching and other professional activities in print, face-to-face situations, and online. This includes introductions to Web design, graphic design, effective presentations, and exploration of other instructional technologies for college teaching. GS 305 College Teaching Practicum covers the nuts and bolts of day-to-day college level classroom teaching. Students present a series of progressively longer and more interactive microteaching demonstrations which are video recorded, as well as observe and provide feedback on other students’ demonstrations. Hugh also addresses practical concerns of classroom teaching in GS 305 such as how to sequence activities, using groups, and “on the fly” evaluation.

The purpose of the courses and workshops offered by CIT is to explore the ways that using instructional technology can help students become more productive and successful teachers and scholars. Specifically related to teaching, Hugh notes two ways productivity is increased through implementation of instructional technology. First, at the administrative level, Blackboard’s communication and grade book tools save a lot of time and facilitate organization. Also facilitated through the use of instructional technology is the exchange of information among students in course activities. For example, Wiki’s are used in many courses as a way for students to work collaboratively on course projects.

Abrita Chakravarty, a Ph.D. student in the department of Computer Science, attended “a couple of workshops on Blackboard which brought [her] up to speed on its technicalities.” She has also attended other CIT events like the Showcase or the Teaching IDEAS series, and says that “these events highlight the different technologies being used in classes around the University.” For a graduate student preparing herself for college teaching, Abrita says “these have been great opportunities to learn about novel ideas, instructor experience, and practical in-classroom lessons for teaching with technology.” Anne O’Neil-Henry, a Ph.D. student in the department of Romance Studies agrees that “CIT workshops help graduate students learn about new tools for teaching and enable [students] to keep up-to-date with technology’s role in pedagogy.” Both Abrita and Anne have taken Hugh Crumley’s GS 301 course in addition to CIT workshops. Anne states that the course “prepares graduate instructors to incorporate technology into their teaching and also to prepare for the job market by creating online teaching portfolios.” She continues, “When I was on the market this year, several interviewers mentioned that they had seen my teaching portfolio and videos, and I have the impression that [these things] helped me stand out. “

The Center for Instructional Technology is located on the lower level of Bostock Library, Suite 026. For more information on CIT and the courses and workshops they offer, please visit their Web site. Dr. Hugh Crumley can be reached via email at crumley@duke.edu.