What have you learned from your project about the principles and practices of good teaching that you would like to share with your colleagues?

According to research, the Millennial generation, 76 million strong, is a term sociologists have given to those born during 1980- 2002. The first of these young people entered college around 2000. These “Millennials” are viewed as entitled, technologically savvy, and culturally diverse. This group has experienced both the benefits and potential problems associated with the explosion of information and entertainment provided and made available instantly via the Internet and games systems like Nintendo and Xbox.  In addition, the Millennial generation seems to desire almost constant interpersonal connections via cell phones, emailing, text messaging and Internet social networking venues such as Facebook and Myspace.

Institutions of higher learning, college professors, and administrators have attempted to meet students' changing needs through the “wired’ campus, “smart” room technologies, and applications such as WebCT.  While continually challenging ourselves to critically examine the effects of technology on academic development, we must adapt our teaching techniques, as it is clear “there is no going back”. Researchers note that some of ways college professors might make course adjustments include:

  • Facilitate group activities in class
  • Assign course work utilizing multi-media approach (i.e. create on-line websites, portfolios, podcast, blogging)
  • Teach in 20 minutes blocks (then somehow get students to interact)
  • Make additional full use of “smart’ room technology by engaging students so that they “move around” the room and share/present their work regularly
  • Expose student to the academically sound ‘free stuff” on the web like Open Courseware Consortium

In what way(s) did this project help your students gain new knowledge or skills?

Students are challenged to comment in class with regularity, thereby gaining the skills of orally presenting their thoughts and critical ideas.  In addition, by designing assignments with a multi-media approach, students get to utilize and hone their “Millennial” skill-sets and I get to learn from their obvious expertise. One successful example is using the “Student Homepages” application in Web-CT to have student write and display their assignments. I then show the completed assignment results to the entire class and we critically examine it together. Thus, students practice writing and critical thinking skills along with their preferred use of technological applications, all the while sharing researched information and learning from each other (and not just the teacher).

In what way(s) has your grant-funded project changed the way that you teach?

Based on what I’ve learned, I’ve utilized some form of each of the practices noted above. I find I’m challenging myself (and students) to create a livelier classroom with a deliberate and intentional interactive approach. To better meet the changing academic needs of students, each of my courses is now supported by a more substantial WebCT component.  I’m utilizing more primary source data and information that can be found on the Internet and posting it for student use on WebCT. In addition, I purchased and use with regularity a very mini-laptop computer to efficiently better accommodate my/our use and need for technology in the classroom. Finally, I’ve become a strong advocate for better equipped classrooms at Lincoln University. I have yet to have the benefit of teaching in a “smart’ technology classroom. I’m “winging it” in ill equipped rooms that tend to stifle my (as well as my students) potential development

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