Technology leaders at universities are always trying to equip their schools with the latest in hardware and software. Likewise, the technology itself is always changing. This constant change can leave the faculty without the necessary skills to use the new tech. So how can you best ensure your faculty is ready to use the school’s new technology?
Alicia Russell, director of educational technology at Northeastern University in Boston, shares these tips on how to train faculty to use technology and how to provide faculty and students the technology they want.
Innovate through collaboration. Russell has joined faculty, administrators and staff on universitywide task forces and committees to discuss technology initiatives, such as mobile learning, online learning and digitizing library resources.
"You have to interact and collaborate with people all over campus to understand what their needs are and to share new innovations that we need to consider adopting," she says.
- Address student expectations by getting their feedback. Northeastern's Educational Technology Center hires two students every six months to work at the center and help train faculty on technology. When the center tests new technology, such as a new tool for online courses, the staff lets the student employees try out the technology to get their feedback.
Provide multiple ways for faculty to learn tech skills. Faculty members can walk into the center and get one-on-one, hands-on training. At the beginning of the school year, the center provides new-faculty orientation training.
During the school year, it holds weekly training workshops and monthly events, where faculty have an open forum to share ideas on topics, such as how to design student team-oriented projects and how to assess student digital media projects.
Turn your website into an educational resource. Northeastern provides a website with a wealth of resources, including online tutorials, webcasts and detailed explanations on the benefits and uses of various tech tools, such as clickers, podcasting and social networking tools.
The web page for mobile learning, for example, includes recommended apps for tablets, reviews and use-case scenarios for professors. The faculty also uses wikis on the mobile learning site to share tips and best practices with each other.
Create incentives for faculty to adopt technology and incorporate it into their coursework. Northeastern provides faculty with tablets, digital cameras and audio recorders for free if they incorporate mobile learning and digital content in their curriculum.
In addition, if faculty members using tablets review a mobile app, the Educational Technology Center will buy them an app of their choice. The center does get a return on investment. The professors who receive a free tablet, for example, are required to blog and talk about their experiences to other faculty, which spurs adoption of the technology, Russell says.
To learn more about creating collaborative learning environments with technology, read the EdTech case study, "Support Collaborative Learning with Enhanced Technology."