By Jim Hynes
For seven of its eight years it was a “fair,” and now it’s a “day.” But its focus has never wavered – McGill’s annual Teaching with Technology event is still all about providing faculty members with an opportunity to share and learn from one another’s experiences, a chance for professors and instructors to tap into the expertise that exists within the academic community at the University and learn about technology-supported strategies that engage students.
“A fair sounds more like people have wares to sell, when the event is really more like demonstrations and sharing experiences and ideas about teaching with technology,” said Dr. Lise Winer, a professor of Integrated Studies in Education and one of the event’s organizers.
And Winer should know. Almost a decade ago, she helped found an event in her own department that would eventually morph into this McGill-wide, collaborative effort between Content and Collaboration Solutions, Teaching and Learning Services, IT Customer Services, the Libraries and individual members of the University’s academic community. This year, for the first time, three McGill faculty members (Winer, Carolyn Samuel and Ken Ragan) sat on the event’s organizing committee.
“Back then, not a lot of us were using myCourses (WebCT), and many of those that were were struggling with it,” Winer recalled. “We tried having people come and give us courses, but it just seemed that, in a course setting, most people who were interested in this just felt overwhelmed. So I got the idea to have faculty teach faculty – people who were using WebCT or other kinds of technology could set up in our faculty lounge and just be accessible to anybody that wanted to come in and say, ‘What are you doing, show me how to do it too.’ And it worked.”
Changing how we teach
The event, like the technology itself, has evolved considerably since then, Winer said. And so has faculty’s openness to using technology in the classroom.
“I think there has been much more of a shift from people who were not used to interactive teaching,” Winer said. “For them the implications have been huge. Because they not only have new technology to adapt to, but that technology, like Clickers for example, encourages them to have the kinds of interaction in the class they never had before.”
This year’s event is divided into three main sections; two technology showcases on subjects like using a Document Camera and E-Portfolios, and a closing showcase exploring the uses of social media to promote student engagement. A Network Lunch between 12:35 and 1:45 will allow participants to navigate between eight different Table Topics exploring subjects like lecture recordings and selecting a new Learning Management System.
Teaching with Technology Day takes place Wednesday, May 4 at Redpath Hall. If you teach at McGill, you are invited to take part in it. The deadline to register is April 28. For more information on the event and its program, and to register, visit www.mcgill.ca/edtech/