Turn on your students. This was Dr. Antonio Jose Bowen’s advice to Fordham faculty during his keynote at this year’s Faculty Technology Day. More than 170 Fordham faculty (and some administrators) left Dr. Bowen’s talk with some great ideas to think about and implement.
Held at the Lincoln Center campus inside Fordham Law School, the 22nd annual Faculty Technology Day took place on May 24th. Dr. Bowen’s keynote was followed by a lively faculty panel. After lunch, afternoon breakout sessions on Google Apps, teaching with mobile devices, protecting research data, the Digital Humanities, and more, continued to motivate faculty and generate discussion. Between sessions, attendees were treated to a continental breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail hour with snacks, as well as tables providing information on various IT services and products, including WebEx, the new videoconferencing and meeting application coming to Fordham soon.
“The main intention is to give faculty a full day to focus on technology for teaching and research,” said Alan Cafferkey, Director of Faculty Technology Services and one of the organizers of this year’s event. “It’s kind of a year-end faculty celebration.” Dr. Fleur Eshghi, Associate Vice President of Information Technology, inaugurated Faculty Technology Day 17 years ago. “We aim to bring faculty together to help them with new concepts and teaching strategies in the digital age,” she said. Fleur, Alan, and other staff from ITAC all worked together to make this the most successful Faculty Technology Day ever.
The day got off to a good start with comments from Dr. Frank J. Sirianni, VP/CIO, and Martha Hirst, VP/CFO. They reminded the audience that technology is not a facility, like electricity. It is an essential part of every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Dr. Bowen, president of Goucher College, also a musician and renowned education pioneer, followed with the keynote. His animated, often humorous talk described his bold approach to using technology in higher education. He also discussed his book, Teaching Naked, which focuses on three key ideas:
– The value of campus education
– Technology is a tool, not a strategy
– Learning is about change
Dr. Bowen believes that technology and innovation should extend to learning in a more holistic way. He claims that we can improve education not just by integrating applications, software, and tools into our instruction, but also by doing things like physically redesigning our classrooms, changing the types of assignments we give to students, and interacting with learners in a more helpful, authentic way. This might be something as simple as posting one interesting fact on a class Twitter account every day, or being available in a chatroom the night before a test or essay is due. He also gave the example of teaching one concept in several forms. For example, when teaching jazz, Dr. Bowen has students listen for stylistic elements common to a particular time period in American history. He shares several pieces as options to listen to, and students choose to analyze the artist or genre that they like best.
We must continuously seek to “turn on” our unique students, said Dr. Bowen, in order for them to continue learning and to always want to learn. Learning, stressed Dr. Bowen, whether in grade school, college, or just in life, must always be at a level of “pleasantly frustrating.” This means that it should not be too easy, or too difficult, because only at this level are we stimulated to continue growing and changing.
To continue these ideas, breakout sessions in the afternoon included Teaching Strategies in the Digital Age–led by Dr. Bowen, Protecting Your Research Data, Teaching with Mobile Devices, Video Conferencing Tool Webex (to be released to members of the Fordham community in September 2016), and Hands-on Survey Building with Qualtrics.
Lastly, a raffle at the end of the day saw organizers give away two iPads, a Fordham IT beach mat, and portable cell phone chargers. All participants, whether raffle winners or not, took home a Faculty Technology Day Moleskine notebook.