Centre College’s education minor program is designed to prepare its students to enter the world after graduating as competent and highly skilled teachers. A recent award from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Faculty Advancement grant program will allow Educational Technology Instructor and Instructional Technology Coordinator for the College’s Center for Teaching and Learning Candace Wentz to continue doing precisely that.
“I was contacted by Associate Professor of Education Michael Kamen of Southwestern University, who teaches their educational technology course,” Wentz explains. “He was looking for other ACS schools to collaborate with him on this project.”
Because both Wentz and Kamen teach educational technology at their respective institutions, they knew a collaboration would be mutually fruitful and inspiring. As their ACS project proposal explains, the duo will use the funding to “collaboratively analyze the material and teaching techniques used in their classes, develop and implement shared online modules and explore opportunities for students to communicate using educational technology to enhance learning.”
Both instructors have as their goal an improved ability for students to use technology in the classroom, including learning how to create a classroom website, using a spreadsheet to calculate grades, and creating a blog, podcasts and videos, all of which are useful in the teaching world.
The pair is especially interested in developing online modules for educational technology courses.
“Developing modules that are applicable to Educational Technology classes and compatible to multiple institutions will allow valuable classroom time that is often used in providing background and setting up to be reclaimed for questions and thoughtful discussion,” the ACS proposal reads.
Such a mixture of in-person and online instruction is known as “blended learning,” something Wentz and Kamen would like to see expanded into the education curriculum. The two are hopeful that such a blended course would allow students to connect with a wide array of educators to not only learn more about the world of education but also actively work to meet technological and pedagogical needs facing the education system.
The proposal also includes a trip to the five-day Texas Computer Education Association conference, which will give those in attendance a broader perspective on how blended learning is being used in a variety of learning environments.
“This project is important to me because Centre’s educational technology course is constantly evolving and incorporating new technologies that can be used in all disciplines, not just education,” Wentz says. “We want to make the educational technology course relevant for all students who have a desire to work with youth outside of the typical K-12 environment.”
Wentz is also hopeful that her collaboration with Kamen can serve as a model for other blended learning courses at Centre and within ACS.
“I hope this project inspires other faculty members who are interested in blending their courses to contact the Center for Teaching and Learning and discuss possibilities on how this might be achieved,” she says.
By Mariel Smith