Hello to the educational technology blog at Morningside College! This is just one of the several ways in which I intend to communicate with the faculty and instructors at Morningside about all things educational technology and teaching & learning. This first post will serve as an introduction to me and how I envision my position as educational technologist at Morningside College.
First, my name is Kim Christopherson. Many people at Morningside already know me from the 8 years that I spent in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Morningside. During my time in the psychology department I have spent time conducting some research on the use of clickers in the classroom and I have also spent several years in the curriculum review and revision process. My own background is as an educational psychologist with a cognitive focus. What this means is that I research how the human cognitive system works (and doesn’t work) as it applies to the educational environment. My focus in graduate school was researching what role technology might play in improving the performance and efficiency of student learning.
My Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation focused primarily on the use of an online study tool (series of multiple choice study questions delivered electronically) on student motivation and engagement as well as students’ ability to predict how well they would perform on an exam. I continued my research in this area when I first started at Morningside by examining the effect of the use of student response systems (i.e. clickers) in the classroom.
I very much look forward to being able to refocus my research energies back into the area of educational technology in this new position and I plan to have a research project of some kind attached to almost every course I teach. I am a willing collaborator in research, so if anyone has ideas or wants to collaborate with me please contact me.
My vision for my position as Educational Technologist at Morningside is of course guided by the job description, but I also have my own particular ideas that I would like to share in terms of how I see my role on the campus. First, one of my major duties will be to assist in the development of the online courses in Morningside’s online only programs (Graduate Education and Graduate Nursing). In this role I will use the research and best practices of online delivery to help improve and develop courses delivered via our course management system (currently Moodle).
Second, within both the graduate and undergraduate programs I will serve primarily as a consultant for faculty in the development and improvement of their online courses, but also as a consultant for the use of technology in more traditional classrooms. Part of this role of consultant will be to deliver several professional development opportunities throughout the year.
Third, I’d like to offer faculty the opportunity to travel to technology related conferences by helping to offset some of the registration and/or travel costs to faculty. I have yet to decide upon a process for requesting these funds, but I do believe that conferences like these can be extremely valuable for faculty other than myself to attend and then share with the campus community. I’d also like to offer some opportunities for summer workshops for which faculty might be compensated.
Finally, I do plan on being the point person for the most up-to-date trends, gadgets, and research in educational technology. This will frankly be a steep learning curve for myself because I’ve been out of this loop for several years now, but rest assured, once I get up-to-date I will be sharing this information with the faculty in a variety of ways including blog posts, social media posts, show-and-tell sessions, and the opportunity for faculty to test out new gadgets in their classrooms. Stay tuned for these updates!
There is one area that I will be playing a small role in and that is the role of tech support. Though I do intend to assist faculty with some support of the technology that they choose to use in their classroom, I cannot be the sole point person for all tech support. My role as Educational Technologist is more ‘big picture’ and focused on assisting faculty in implementing and deciding on what technology (if any) might be most helpful to their students. However, with that said, I do intend to work with IT and others to help better develop the support resources for technologies like Moodle and Taskstream so that faculty can easily find the help they need when a specific tech issue arises.
I’d like to end this entry with a description of how I tend to view technology in the classroom. Many faculty know me for my integration of technology in my classrooms. I’ve been using clickers since I first started at Morningside and continue to use them today. I’ve also been in the process of flipping a few of my classrooms by using videos and online testing. I’m not shy about incorporating technology. However, I do tend to do so only if I believe that there is a true benefit and this decision is typically based on some type of empirical evidence. I am a cheerleader for technology, but only if it is purposeful. Technology for technology’s sake can actually reduce learning because if done poorly, it can confuse students, overwhelm student’s cognitive abilities, and overwhelm the instructor. Thus, when I am in a consultant role you will most likely hear questions like: “what learning goals do you want to improve?,” “What do you want your students to do?,” and “What are your students struggling to do or understand?” Knowing your particular learning goal for your student can help me to consider what possible technology solutions might be available. But odds might be that I also propose low tech options as well.
If you have a particular technology you’d like to incorporate more (for example using Moodle more in your class or using Taskstream), I’ll again default back to what your course goals are first and then think about possible features to include. Research in educational and cognitive psychology tells us that it is not the delivery method of the material that matters as much as instructional design in student learning. And all instructional design needs to start with the goals/outcomes of your course. Technology can simply make some things more possible/easy to incorporate such as customized learning, incorporating multimedia, and providing more opportunities for practice (Clark & Mayer, 2011).