The Connected Professor
Keith Poore has been teaching in the School of Advanced Technology for over 14 years. He’s one of the SAT professors who still uses the phrase “at Rideau”. Keith has been a recipient of Innovation Funds over the last three years and with those funds he has experimented with a wide variety of new technologies to connect and engage his students. It wasn’t until we sat down to chat about what he has applied in his classroom and learning environment, that I realized how many new approaches and technologies he has applied into his everyday teaching practices.
In order to connect with students, in 2011/2012 he added texting to his repertoire. Working with Justin Antoszek in LTS, Keith was equipped with a simple software application that allowed him to text his entire class announcements and reminders. Students can’t respond to the texts. He is using this tool to broadcast to a communication channel he knows his students are checking continually.
If texting is the most recent addition to his repertoire of approaches and tools for connecting to his students, what else has he been up to? Here are some of his other engagement initiatives:
- Combining multiple class sections into one Blackboard site to limit the amount of time for managing his sites so he can add other engagement elements.
- Uses the polling functions in Blackboard to assess the knowledge of students on an ongoing basis.
- Records all lectures using Camtasia Relay.
- Experimented with virtual classroom options including Vyew, DimDim, Skype, Big Blue Button, Adobe Connect and Eluminate. He used Elluminate in 2011/2012 and tried to offer a live broadcast of many of his lecture. Elluminate was integrated into Blackboard last year during a testing period.
- Offered online office hours in the evenings using Skype and he has built the Skype connection right into his Blackboard site banner (KEITH – Can you provide a picture?).
- Tested out Facebook and Twitter as additional methods for communicating but neither have had significant uptake. (Other Professors have had success with Facebook as an alternate method of communicating with students outside of the classroom. Read the discussion on Yammer.)
Overall, these additional options for connecting and reviewing learning content have been well received. Keith adds, “There is no question that it takes more time to set up for recording and adding my tablet to the monitor set up. You have to be organized and ready to adapt to technology ‘glitches’ but it’s very rare that I run into issues. With all of the ‘enhancements’ I’ve made to my teaching using new tools, I’m still sometimes disappointed by the attendance to my classes as the term progresses. With all the bells and whistles I’ve added, I still feel I need to explore new ways to engage Gen Y & Z. They are a new breed.”