Educators from more than a dozen colleges and universities visited the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) for its first Teaching with Technology Day on May 24 to explore effective ways technology can be used in higher education.
“What makes today’s event so significant and noteworthy is that it is not about the School of Nursing or any other single school within the University of Maryland, Baltimore,” Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON), said in her opening remarks. She also is director of UMB’s Center for Interprofessional Education. “Rather, it is about all of our schools working collaboratively to create a program to engage not only our institutions, but colleges and universities from throughout Maryland and the surrounding region.” (See video below.)
Kirschling said about half of the event’s attendees represented faculty and staff from UMB’s six professional schools and the Graduate School as well as staff from the Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HS/HSL).
“But what is equally exciting is that the other 50 percent come from other educational institutions,” Kirschling said. “This level of participation is extraordinary. I can think of no more important time to expand our knowledge and understanding in how to effectively engage today’s learners and those of tomorrow. We all realize that our students are more diverse and technologically savvy than those who proceeded them and, oftentimes, their faculty.”
Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS,executive vice president, provost, and dean of the Graduate School, welcomed attendees from throughout the region, including Morgan State University, Montgomery College, Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore City Community College, Loyola University Maryland, University of Baltimore, Anne Arundel Community College, Towson University, Stevenson University, Prince George’s Community College, Harford Community College, Chesapeake Community College, and Delaware Technical Community College.
“This is UMB, and we very much want your participation in our activities and vice-versa,” Jarrell said. “We view ourselves, clearly, as a statewide resource for the many educational programs in the state, and I am so glad that you are at this campus.”
He said the conference was timely, mainly for two reasons.
“One, I want to learn more about it. Two, I’m watching what our students do now. You know, our students may come to a lecture, but most of the time, they pull that thing out of their pocket,” he said, holding up his smartphone to the audience. “In fact, we had a rule on rounds: You can’t pull that thing out of your pocket because we think you’re doing it for a social reason. But in fact, they practice medicine on Google. It’s scary for me to think about that. But on the other hand, we need to harness that in a way that really maximizes our students’ experiences, because they’re going to be there (using technology) whether we’re there or not.”
Louise S. Jenkins, PhD, RN, FAHA, ANEF, professor and director of the Institute for Educators at UMSON and a professor in the Department of Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice, said the idea of Teaching with Technology Day arose a few years ago when representatives of the UMB schools — nursing, medicine, dentistry, social work, pharmacy, law, and the Graduate School, appointed by the dean of each school — began to meet once a month to explore how the schools “might better work together and enhance teaching and learning on this campus.”
“As you might imagine, we talked and talked and talked and talked. Last November, we stopped talking and started acting,” she said. “The seeds were helped to sprout as we began to plan this conference, and today these seeds are fully grown and are blooming into this, our first annual Teaching with Technology Conference.”
MJ Bishop, EdD, director of the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, provided the keynote address.
Technology has been used to tout transformational change in education for years but generally has produced little results in the way people teach, Bishop said.
“Technology use has not, in fact, revolutionized education,” she said, noting scholars predicted that motion pictures would make books obsolete, that in the 1930s and ’40s, radio would stimulate the imaginations of learners, that in the ’50s and ’60s, television would be an efficient and inexpensive way to “satisfy the nation’s instructional needs,” and in the ’70s and ’80s, predicted mainframes and personal computers would provide students access to the personal services of a tutor “as well informed and as responsive as Aristotle.”
“So, it turns out, as one traces the history of tech use and education, there’s an incredibly clear pattern that has emerged,” Bishop said. “First are the initial enthusiastic claims of educational benefits. Then the new technology blows everyone over as they hurry to figure out what to do with it, even without a set of guidelines or any foundation, research, or idea to suggest best practices. Then come the logistical difficulties. Worst of all, we provide little to no instructor training. Consequently, these things end up being a huge hassle to the instructor. ... The basic act of teaching has really changed very little.”
Simply introducing a new tool, technique, or system into an educational context changes nothing unless the educator understands the need it’s intended to fill and how to go about capitalizing on the capabilities the technology brings to address those needs, she said.
“In and of themselves, technologies won’t transform higher education as long as we continue to limit our educational practice to the boundaries of our previous knowledge,” Bishop said.
“What’s critical now is that we NOT simply use new tools to perpetuate doing things the way we’ve always done them in the past. Instead, our work must be aimed at helping us understand what needs to be fixed and how to capitalize on the affordances of emerging technologies to best address those needs. ... Until higher education makes this shift, we will continue to deprive our students of the transformative power of technology — in the true sense of the word.”
In a nod to the PBS cooking show America’s Test Kitchen, Teaching with Technology Day also included Technology Test Kitchen in the UMSON Atrium, where “chefs” Clark Shah-Nelson MA, assistant dean, instructional design and technology, University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW); Brian Zelip, MLIS, emerging technologies librarian, HS/HSL; and Nichole Schumaker, MEd, instructional technology specialist, UMSON, guided participants through hands-on exercises involving virtual reality, robotic telepresence videoconferencing, 3-D printing, and annotating on tablets.
“It’s a good way for faculty to interact with instructional designers and have conversations about ideas,” said Shah-Nelson, dressed in a white chef’s hat and coat. He helped demonstrate a telepresence robotic device that can be used during video conferencing or for students who have an illness or long-term disability. “It gives them the ability to be present in the classroom with more capability to look around at their classmates.” He also demonstrated an inexpensive cardboard device from Google Cardboard that turns a cellphone into a virtual-reality device.
Yalonda Dixon, a library media instructional assistant at Berry Elementary School in Waldorf, Md., said Teaching with Technology Day was “very engaging,” and she enjoyed experimenting with the 3-D printer.
“I thought the 3-D printer was really cool. I learned how you can recreate things and make them 3-D,” she said, holding a little green plastic plaque that read “CONGRATS ELAINA!” which, with the help of Zelip, she made on the 3-D printer for her daughter’s high school graduation. “It was really cool to see how it worked,” she said.
The day also included a panel discussion on “Pedagogy and Technology: Making it Meaningful,” facilitated by Anthony Frisby, PhD, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Thomas Jefferson University, and featuring panelists Kathleen M. Buckley, PhD, RN, IBCLC, associate professor, family and community health, UMSON; Julie Gilliam, ScD, MS, lead instructional technologist, UMSSW; and Shannon Tucker, MS, assistant dean of instructional design and technology, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
Participants also toured the HS/HSL’s iSpace and Practice Presentation Studio as well as UMSON’s Standardized Patient Program and clinical simulation labs.