Empowering Higher Education Faculty to Use Technology to Enhance Teaching and Learning: A Peer Mentoring Program
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AbstractABSTRACT: This paper describes a peer mentor program to help college faculty integrate technology into their teaching and to use technology for personal learning and professional development. In order to help faculty become more comfortable with and use technology, a faculty mentoring program was created which centered on a faculty member serving in the capacity of a faculty mentor. This paper reports from the mentor's perspective the technology-centered concerns that the faculty reported in an initial survey, the nature of the mentoring program and the current effort to make the mentoring program into an institutionally supported position. Faculty Technology Survey Faculty technology mentor conducted a survey to explore the nature of faculty concerns with respect to technology issues on campus. Survey results indicated several major areas of concern, including: Faculty Concerns with Respect to Technology and Student Learning • How to make this activity (electronic discussion) supportive of course objectives is an important question…if it just seen and experienced by the students as a gimmick, it will not be helpful. What is unique about the use of discussions that makes it worthwhile for student learning. I think I know but students don't always seem to be as motivated to get on the lists and participate. Faculty Concerns with Respect to Technology and Time & Management • Haven't had time or success with working with IT on these more instructional type issues. • Workshops are slow and general. I want an intense session specific to my needs. I can't give 3 hours to many workshops, but 1/2 hr one-on-one is extremely helpful. Faculty Concerns with Respect to Technology and Information They Needed About Available Hardware & Software in Classrooms & Various Sites • … am interested in transposing my overheads to Power Point (or some other more technology-based media). I have run into several barriers: Equipment (I can't be assured of having a way to project the images in my classroom at Beach Park); Information about resources - such as, do we have a way of scanning images? Faculty Concerns with Respect to Technology and Technical Support from the IT Department • I will need the ability to run Java applets on the machines in the networked classrooms in fall 2001...The issue was not resolved at that time but I will need it (the capacity to run the applets from actual files developed by students) for a course in the fall. • I increased by enrollment one semester in …. because I was promised support. However, the assistants were not able to help in ways anticipated, and they were not trained or interested. They seemed annoyed to even be asked. Faculty Concerns with Respect to Integrating Technology into Their Own Teaching • Need to know how to use technology in my teaching methods courses, other than word processing. Need the appropriate equipment: hardware & software; need to know what others in similar teaching areas are doing in this area Faculty Concerns with Respect to Technology and Support in Handling Student Concerns • …need to know how to address student concerns, particularly their skills and available facilities/equipment at the college and home Faculty Concerns with Respect to Technology and Institutional Support • I don't feel we have the support at SJC (maybe until now!) to help make things work right for faculty and students… Faculty Reported Some Integration of Technology into Teaching • I don't like our email system (Electronically mediated discussion such as threaded discussion using our email system) for threaded discussions, and I have started to use Blackboard instead, which student appreciate! Professional Development Activities Faculty technology mentor provided professional development activities based on the needs expressed by faculty as indicated in the table below: I am interested in Professional Development Options: (February, 2001) Personal Contact Informal Discussion Workshop Small Group 7 5 10 Integrating the Internet into my courses 9 4 7 Support in developing a personal web page 4 3 5 Support in developing a department web page 7 3 14 Electronically mediated discussion such as threaded discussion using our email system 4 2 8 Creating PowerPoint presentations 1 3 3 How to evaluate software 1 5 4 How to evaluate World Wide Web sites 9 1 2 On-site (in the classroom) support when I try an innovation the first time 7 6 9 What's Janzabar and Why should I care?! 3 7 14 Discussion with faculty who are teaching online courses 3 5 12 Overview of teaching an online course 4 4 13 Overview of process of developing and online course 3 3 15 Managing and surviving an online course 3 4 14 Creating a learner-centered environment in an online course 7 2 7 Assistance in developing an online course 3 2 6 Using the SJC library from my home via the Internet 3 1 Accessing email & Public Folders off campus 1 7 Developing a technology vision for SJC In order to make my work meaningful to the faculty, I conducted a needs assessment survey. Survey results indicated six general areas of need as expressed by the faculty. During the course of the spring semester, I spent 57 hours in direct contact with faculty either individually or in small groups focusing on the six areas of need. As indicated below, many projects have been completed. However, many have been started and work will continue in fall. 1. Personal Web Pages &#61656; Developed and posted 6 faculty personal web pages; 3 of these will require further development in the fall. &#61656; Started work with 6 other faculty members and will continue this fall in the development of their personal web pages. 2. Department Web Page Development &#61656; Continuing work with Religious Studies Department to develop web page. 3. Electronically Mediated Discussion &#61656; Shared research in support of the use of electronically mediated discussion. &#61656; Held one orientation meeting for faculty; 11 faculty members attended. &#61656; Mentored 3 faculty members in setting up and using public folders in conjunction with traditional instruction. &#61656; Anticipate working with these faculty members in the fall in terms of providing technical support the first time they try this with their classes. 4. Online Course Development &#61656; Shared research in the development and teaching of online courses. &#61656; Held one orientation meeting for faculty; 16 faculty members attended. &#61656; Mentored 4 faculty members in the development of CTDLC grants. Psychology Dept., Chemistry Dept., Biology Dept., and Counseling Dept. have developed and submitted CTDLC proposals for funding to online course development. &#61656; Continuing to work with English Dept., Nursing Dept., Nutrition Dept., Psychology Dept., and Counseling in the development of CTDLC proposals for the next round of grants. 5. Conducting Research in the SJC Library &#61656; Shared with interested faculty the process for conducting electronic research. 6. Accessing email & public folders from home • Shared with interested faculty the process for accessing email & public folders off-site. Institutional Support for Faculty Technology Mentor The technology mentor position has been incorporated into the 5 year technology plan. Furthermore, it is specified that the person who will be a mentor is a member of the Faculty. The position taken is that such a program would be best staffed by a faculty member because of the specialized knowledge and closely related to the academic mission. There was much support for having a faculty member who understood how technology could be applied within the context of a pedagogic framework. This position has the full support of the Faculty and the college administration.