Friday Faculty Lunch: Small scale technology to improve education

Colin Rivera, Staff Writer

 

On Friday Feb. 14, Terry Hickey, Ph.D., and Eric Boyer, Ph.D., presented to Saint Martin’s faculty ways they found could increase classroom engagement. As faculty of the College of Education and Counseling, Hickey and Boyer are not only educators, but also teach future educators too. To do such a job effectively, they must stay up to date with how students change over time.

At the Friday Faculty Lunch, Hickey and Boyer shared the methods they used to keep their classes involved in lessons through the use of small-scale technology. Hickey used the first half of the presentation to discuss several ways of making sure students are learning material. 

The first way she purveyed was to make ideas visual. There are several ways to create visuals, one being word art. The website she used can be given text such as a speech or paragraph from a novel and it will create a visual out of the big ideas. 

Another format she encouraged faculty to use is song writing. For example, she played a parody version of the song “Despacito” originally by Luis Fonsi, that covers biology concepts such as cell growth and evolution. Hickey told the audience that making catchy songs out of key concepts can help students retain information in a concise way. The last method she discussed was to create a podcast. This format can be used not only as a way to convey information to students, but as a way for students to present their own work. 

During Boyer’s half of the presentation, he demonstrated ways to effectively use videos in the classroom. He started by discussing older ways of showing videos. Students received answer sheets to follow along with the recording, or they just watched a video without discussing it later. Using YouTube in the classroom can help students by giving them the ability to re-watch videos later in a fast-paced class format. 

Boyer showed the audience the YouTube channel Crash Course, created by brothers John and Hank Green, as a primary example of how online videos can be both reliable and humorous, while also remaining educational. He explained how these videos can be used as legitimate teaching tools for a number of different subjects from mathematics, to history, and even psychology. 

He reiterated that these are only tools, and should not be used as a substitute for teaching. To use them correctly, Boyer suggests making worksheets tailored to the videos, incorporating questions that are reflective of the material covered, and having questions that can be answered before or after viewing the video. 

He also reminds the viewers that these videos are not the professor, and therefore the videos can be paused to further elaborate on points which are merely touched on. 

“Ultimately, we want to use these videos as connection tools, both to the information and learning outcomes that we’re guiding our students towards, and to the way in which students absorb information as well,” said Boyer.

Boyer concluded the presentation by discussing educational websites, such as the well-known TED-Ed; where experts share their research, stories, and experiences, as well as Kahoot; a favorite live quiz game of many students. 

 

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