In January, I accepted a co-op position at Central Connecticut State University in our campus’ Instructional Technology Design and Resource Center. The plan was simple; figure out a way to inject new technologies into the classroom in a non-obvious way. As Profhacker readers are sure to recognize, lots of really interesting and effective tools are available online, most of them cheap or even free. However, when I asked Professors why they did or didn’t use a particular tool or service, and they all came back with similar answers: they weren’t familiar with the tools, they didn’t know what was out there, they didn’t see the point, and they didn’t trust the price.
The last two were particularly hard for me to grok. The first point I can almost understand: five years ago, Youtube was but a twinkle in the eye of it’s owner, Myspace ruled the Social Networks, and “tweeting” was still something only birds do. The turnover rate in technology (specifically online) is huge, so investing in any one tool when it could be just a passing phase? The second was was a particularly hard pill to swallow, particularly to an undergrad student: “What do you mean Free is Bad?”
I figured the best way to encourage Faculty to use these new tools would be a workshop designed to gently introduce them to the basics of some of the fundamentals of online tech. I had a pretty serviceable list going when I had a conversation with a fellow student about my work, and – to my shock – my classmate showed interest in creating a Podcast! He asked if he could sign up, and I rushed back to my boss with a new plan: hybridized workshops for Students and Faculty. Make students knowledgeable and they’ll eventually request to use their newfound tech in the classroom. Make faculty knowledgeable and students will be using the tech as assigned. It’s a two pronged solution, and it’s worked very well so far!
I am interested in hearing feedback from the Profhacker Community at large on this idea. I’ve run a few so far, and – despite low attendance – it has actually gone great, with lots of really interesting questions flying back and forward. The Workshops – titled the Digital Seminar Series – can be found here. Each one is about 30 minutes long, with a basic one-on-0ne session afterwards. Here’s a list of all the currently run workshops , along with a brief description:
Digital Communication: Why would I want to use Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Email vs. SMS?
Podcasting and Multimedia Creation: What is a Podcast, and why would I want one?
Social Networking: How can Social Media and Social Networking help me work better?
Understanding Web Site Construction: How is a web site made? How can I make one cheap and easy?
Wiki’s and Wikipedia : What is a Wiki? What is Wikipedia really good for? Is it the Fifth horseman of the Apocalypse?
How to put your brain online: What is Cloud Computing? Why would I want to use it?
Blogging : What good are blogs, anyway? What’s all the fuss about them?
Understanding Digital Copyrights: If I put something online, is it still mine? What are the Creative Commons?
Managing your Digital Reputation: How do I make sure the “me” online is someone that is hire-able/professional?
What do you think, Profhacker? What would do you think would benefit students and faculty in such a way? Would you like to see more come of this – for example, a screencast of each Workshop, or a podcast on each topic? Let me know in the comments!