How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?
We believe that our re-design is highly transferable to many other disciplines, especially those that depend on student interaction and inquiry-based learning. In general, any course taught in a large lecture format could incorporate this type of technology. In particular, other science courses such as introductory chemistry, physics or psychology, all of which traditionally attract large numbers of students, could benefit from some use of this technology in class. Specific activities, including the use of computers in the laboratory setting, would be transferable to any introductory or upper level science course. In fact, the sophomore level Genetics and Ecology courses at Fairfield University, each serving approximately 60 students, have now incorporated the use of these iBooks for the upcoming year. We have even tried to coordinate the time codes for these courses with that of our introductory biology, such that we could get the most efficient use of the computers. This type of coordinated and collaborative activities will serve to reduce costs across the curriculum.
How are you disseminating the re-design among your colleagues?
The dissemination of our re-design has already begun in a number of forms. First, we have presented our plan to the department, and plan to continue occasional updates on our progress and problems since we feel it to be important to get input from other members of the biology faculty. Second, our project was recently presented to the general faculty, where it was very well received. Third, the two co-directors of the re-design were invited by members of the Fairfield University Faculty Development and Evaluations Committee to present the re-design project to faculty as part of their seminar series. This presentation was enthusiastically received by faculty in attendance, and sparked a number of discussions regarding the use of technology in the classroom. Fourth, summaries of our re-design have been published in the Fairfield University magazine, and the local newspaper. Finally, our biology re-design team has joined two other technology re-design projects on campus to host a technology conference this summer: "Technology, Pedagogy & Course Redesign". This conference allowed for a more public presentation of our efforts to faculty from other academic institutions engaged in similar types of activities. This facilitated excellent discussion of the benefits, and problems associated with such implementation.
Reactions to our re-design have been overwhelmingly positive. We found many faculty to be unaware of the advantages and versatility of wireless technology. In fact, most were amazed at its ease of use and speed. Faculty are most excited about the success of this type of technology, and its use by others at the university. Some concerns include the time required of faculty to design such a technology-integrated course, the reliability of the technology, the sacrifice of course content, and the possibility of technology “overload” if all courses move in this direction.
December 2001 Update: Based on the success of our technology conference last summer, Fairfield University will sponsor another technology conference during the summer of 2002.
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