Essay 6. Using Educational Technology to Enhance Learning and Teaching Introduction Information technology (IT) offers tremendous promise for enhancing the academic experience. Educational technologies include not only the Internet, which provides access to university websites directly tied to courses as well as to resources around the world, but also innovations in recording, collaborating, and responding technologies that offer enhanced environments for scholarly interaction and intellectual pursuit. These technologies are valuable when they serve the larger educational goals of the university: to create active learners who not only master the content of their chosen fields, but also develop techniques and modes of critical thought that will enable them to be informed and discerning citizens and contributors to their professions. Most UCLA students are immersed in information technology in their daily lives. They expect that their academic lives will be similarly rich in technology, and that they will leave UCLA as technology-savvy graduates. Both faculty and students are end users of educational technology, and from it they gain vastly improved access to course materials and to one another. But crucially, the technology landscape now includes a rich mixture of new kinds of course materials: discipline-specific multi-media content, simulations, and applications, as well as tools for communication, collaboration, writing, and research. Educational technology holds the promise of creating more interactive classes, engaging students more deeply and more actively in the course content, and contributing to a student’s learning of complex concepts by adapting to the student’s level and progression of understanding. To improve the learning experience significantly and consistently across the undergraduate and graduate curricula, however, UCLA, like comparable institutions, faces many challenges in developing practices, policies, and resources to adapt to ever-changing educational technology. These challenges are not merely financial, though they are obviously that; they also include a leadership challenge. In this essay, we focus on our capacity to build on our diverse experiences and to develop a more cohesive approach to leadership, infrastructure, and services based on a shared understanding of the uses of technology that will have the greatest impact on student learning and faculty teaching. Reflecting on Past Successes: Three Examples 1) Support for Technology in Instruction. For over two decades, the Office of Instructional
Development (OID1) has provided a broad range of services in support of undergraduate instruction. Innovation grants, many of which include the use of technology, are awarded directly to faculty each year. OID’s Teaching Enhancement Center 2 provides training and consultation in the use of technology. Their Teaching Assistant Technology Training Program, initially funded as a national model by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, includes modules on the effective use of technology by graduate students. Most recently, OID has provided such innovations as video streaming, podcasting3, and classroom personal-response systems. Other support for innovation by faculty and teaching assistants occurs in units across the campus, at the level of either the division (e.g. the Center for Digital Humanities4 and Social Sciences Computing5) or the department, program, or individual faculty (e.g. Virtual Office Hours6 in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry). The new Institute for Digital Research and Education 7 and the NSF-funded AccessGrid 8 support graduate education in the use of technology for computation and simulation across units and campuses. The largest educational technology impetus at UCLA in recent years has been the Instructional Enhancement Initiative (IEI), which is both a program and a funding mechanism for providing some components of the educational technology...
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