Megan Linos, assistant provost for Distance Learning (right)
and Dr. Tamara Hunt, chair and professor of History (left) at a "This is How I Teach" luncheon seminar.
From peer-driven faculty showcase seminars, to a technology loaner program, to a newly renovated multi-purpose studio, Megan Linos, assistant provost for Distance Learning, and her team are making sure USI faculty have access to the technology, training, one-on-one consultation, and support they need to teach their classes online and make the most of distance education resources.
“Distance Learning fulfills the missions of faculty development and aligns technology to embrace the University’s Strategic Plan,” said Linos. “We hope our new space, tools, and resources will make that possible. Our own strategic plan focuses on faculty development, student readiness, technology alignment, and institutional planning.”
One way her team is promoting online teaching innovation, creative curriculum design, and technology is through the recently launched “This is How I Teach” series. The free seminars, offered over the lunch hour, teach faculty how to use technologies, such as VoiceThread, Blackboard, and social media channels to support online courses, or how to best format curriculum for online delivery. Seminars are recorded and made available for later viewing through YouTube. The seminars are presented by a variety of experts including USI faculty as well as guest presenters from other institutions. Upcoming lecture topics and instructions for signing up are available online.
Online Teaching Tools
Because distance education is delivered online and through a variety of mediums, understanding the technology and tools needed to deliver it can be daunting. Through Distance Learning, faculty has access to a variety of online teaching tools and the expertise to learn how to best use them. Some of those tools include:
- Blackboard Collaborate: A communication tool
- Supports up to 100 online meeting participants at one time
- Features include recording, desktop sharing, breakout sessions, and polls
- VoiceThread: A discussion tool
- Easy access through the myUSI portal with a USI ID and password
- Great online presentation tool for both faculty and students
- Flexible tool for pre-recorded lectures
- Supports online discussion through text, audio, and video
- Presentation can be embedded on Blackboard
- Panopto: A lecture recording tool
- Great for recording on-campus lectures
- Record and share speakers as well as documents or websites from a desktop screen
- Integrates with Blackboard
Additionally, a team of trained student technology consultants is available to assist faculty with online teaching needs. The mobile team travels to the individual’s college on campus and provides one-on-one support.
Faculty Innovation Studio
When Linos and her team started looking at the distance education needs of faculty, what became clear was that they needed a place to meet, share ideas, try out new technologies, and practice online delivery of course material. What resulted was the recently created Faculty Innovation Studio located across from the Distance Education Office in FA0046 in the lower level of the Forum Wing of the Wright Administration Building.
“The space is available for teaching seminars, consultations, and general guidance,” said Linos. “It’s staffed by students who are trained to assist faculty members with technology questions.”
The space includesa teaching podium; eight computer workstations that can be used for small technology workshops, exam proctoring, or additional seating for larger group discussions; ateaching commons with 12 seats that can be reconfigured in a variety of layouts; a whiteboard wall for sharing ideas; and video recording capabilities to capture lectures and train for online content delivery.
The innovation studio also is home to the Faculty Technology Loaner Program, where faculty can borrow equipment such as laptops, webcams, iPads, and more. The loan counter is staffed regular hours by student workers.
An open house showcasing the new space, technology offerings and other resources offered through Distance Learning will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, November 18, in the new Faculty Innovation Studio.
For more information about Distance Learning email Distance@usi.edu or call 812/228-5124. ♦