Thursday, October 2, 2014

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Annual Resource Fair Puts Professors in Touch with Tech

“Is this the year I take the leap?”

That’s the question many University of Virginia faculty members ask themselves at the start of a new academic semester as they consider incorporating various new technologies into the classroom. Each fall, the University’s Teaching with Technology Fair helps them make a more informed decision.

This year’s fair, held Thursday at the Robertson Media Center in Clemons Library, drew more than 160 attendees eager to hear about the latest innovations in pedagogy.

The event featured faculty presentations, hands-on workshops, demonstrations and tutorials, digital poster sessions and a keynote address from law professor J.H. “Rip” Verkerke, the new chair of the University Committee on Information Technology.

Presentations highlighted faculty members’ stories of success in integrating teaching with technology across a range of disciplines – from showcasing students’ molecular modeling of proteins online, to creating dance films in simultaneous remote locations using videoconferencing technology.

A cooperative effort by the Arts & Sciences Center for Instructional Technology, Information Technology Services, the School of Continuing & Professional Studies, the Teaching Resource Center and the U.Va. Library, the fair educated faculty about the many University resources available to them for their teaching and research.

More than 20 digital poster sessions provided an overview of the wide array of technology options. In addition to tutorials on increasing student engagement via advanced features in UVaCollab, attendees were also treated to demos of Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display; visualization techniques for “big data”; and VoiceThread, an online tool for digital storytelling and micro documentaries.

The day concluded with a capstone networking reception sponsored by UVa Box, the University’s official new online file storage service “in the cloud.”

As Verkerke noted in his keynote address, new technologies are essential for educators, but not for their own sake; rather, they should be constantly evaluated and the most promising ones harnessed to help create a more productive learning environment. The Teaching with Technology Fair served as a starting point for U.Va. faculty this fall.

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