EDTECH: How can higher education address these challenges? How can you ensure that classroom technology investments pay off?
LEVITT: We are not in the ROI world in education. We install something, and it hangs out there for quite a long time. A better way to evaluate it is to ask, “How do I ensure it is meeting expectations?”
We constantly check in with faculty, doing classroom surveys, figuring out what is working and getting faculty input on new builds, because we will do another build in the future and we want to see what is working. We are in the business of education, so we are constantly learning from the process.
You also have to think about building in processes that inform the faculty. For example, with the wireless issue, it’s fabulous if they want to use clicker technology.
But explain the limitations so they know they shouldn’t use it for high-stakes testing. Use it for quizzing, engagement and making sure people come prepared for class. But don’t assign 30 percent of students’ grades to it because there are going to be some failures.
There could be some technical failure with somebody’s device. If you don’t want to deal with every minor issue, you can just drop the lowest quiz score for the semester. There are strategies for dealing with the limitations.
EDTECH: What is the best way to offer faculty training?
LEVITT: The reality is faculty learns from faculty. You find your faculty champions, and they will go out and sell it for you. They will go back to their departments and say their students love it. They will write that in the evaluation and the word gets out.
In my unit and in our academic technology service, we have a faculty forum every month where faculty come and discuss how they are using technology. That’s the faculty-listening-to-faculty piece that is so important.
If you build a coalition of the willing that can share with those who are interested, that’s where you get the growth. They will start connecting with each other. As IT professionals, we should catalyze the connections and not force ourselves on them as the experts. Help them learn from each other.
So, it’s building learning communities on campus, but also working with our Center of Educational Effectiveness. When I was at the University of California, Berkeley we called it the Center for Teaching and Learning.
This is a common resource at universities. Specialists help faculty with pedagogy and help them learn how to teach and use analytics. As we reach certain populations, are students performing in certain academic paths? It helps leadership make decisions around effective teaching on campus.
From an IT perspective, you have to partner with these centers. Some of these units are actively in technology departments.
Some are outside. Through one-on-one consultations, they show faculty what tools are available and get them interested in new ways of teaching. Every faculty member approaches it differently based on their discipline, but having that consultation piece is important.
EDTECH: Anything else that can increase adoption?
LEVITT: Technology integration through standards also helps. The learning management system was once this big behemoth that you built. Now with standards like the IMS Global Learning Consortium’s LTI protocol, the LMS is an organizing force that you can integrate other tools onto. It’s more of an ecosystem now.
Giving faculty a choice in which tools they use is key for their adoption. They pick the tools that come from the publishers or disciplines they trust, so it’s really a way IT people can build an ecosystem of tools.
EDTECH: What classroom technologies are expected by students today?
LEVITT: We have a lot of presentation technology: screens and projectors. We also have lecture capture. Cameras are controlled remotely by students who record lectures that will automatically appear in their LMS. Students can go back and review things they missed in class. This is especially important for students who use English as a second language. We’ve seen enormous usage.We also have high adoption of the LMS, with quizzing, assignments and discussions happening on it, along with a lot of content delivery. It’s being used to communicate