Technology Coordinator, 2015-2017
One of my responsibilities at the Center for English as a Second Language was to serve as the technology coordinator for the department. My main goals as technology coordinator were to provide training for teachers to help them integrate technology in the classroom and to make informed decisions when adapting and purchasing technology. I was also responsible for transitioning the department from Moodle to Desire2Learn (D2L) in Summer & Fall 2016, specifically training all instructors how to create and edit courses and to apply CESL policy procedures to the new gradebook program. My philosophy as technology coordinator focused on accessibility in order integrate technology that students already owned or that our department or that the university provided. I also focused on teacher accessibility, making sure that the technology was free and relatively easy to learn and use.
Technology Teaching & Learning Institute, 2013-2015
One of my roles as an instructional designer at KCELT was to design and facilitate workshops for faculty in Kirkwood’s Technology Teaching & Learning Institutes, which occurred at the end of every fall and spring semester. For the Fall 2013 semester, we designed and facilitated a series of workshops to help faculty integrate Internet video conferencing (IVC) technology, specifically Adobe Connect, Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime into their courses. For the Spring 2014 semester, we designed and facilitated workshops to help faculty “flip” their classrooms using technology such as Camtasia, QuickTime Player, iMovie, Windows MovieMaker, and Prezi.
After these institutes, the instructional designers follow up on each faculty member who participated in the workshops. One purpose is to help personalize learning for their teaching contexts. Another is to build a train-the-trainer model so our participants will be able to train their colleagues. Our primary goal is to build a community of faculty who share and exchange ideas around research-informed pedagogy.
Technology in the Classroom, 2009-2012
My first extensive experience training pre-service teachers was through my experience as a teaching assistant for the Education Technology Center at the University of Iowa College of Education. Following a syllabus designed by the Chief Technology Officer, I worked with another teaching assistant as a co-facilitator. As the junior co-facilitator, I assisted students with their technology issues. As the senior co-facilitator in my last 2 years, I lead workshops on various types of instructional technology while mentoring the junior co-facilitator.
Most of the course was designed for the purposes of helping pre-service teachers set up and build their e-portfolios following a standardized template created by the Education Technology Center using MS SharePoint. We also helped these teachers produce, edit, and link various learning objects to their e-portfolios, such as teaching philosophy videos, sample classroom web pages, and narrated PowerPoint presentations about assistive technology and mobile learning.
When I was a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa, I was grateful for the opportunity to assist professors in the Education Leadership & Policy Studies department at the College of Education with their courses that involved a blended learning component. Blended learning in this context means that the professors taught a course in which students met synchronously in the classroom and online (via Adobe Connect).
My first experience with blended learning was in the summer of 2010. From that summer through the spring semester of 2012, I developed confidence and skills to assist and lead courses using Adobe Connect, which is a web conferencing program that enables multiple users from multiple locations to join a session or classroom.
I also gained the experience of using Adobe Connect in various classrooms ranging from high-tech with multiple wall-mounted cameras to low-tech where a laptop computer was the only access point to Adobe Connect. At Kirkwood Community College, I used and helped faculty learn how to use Adobe Connect and how to best integrate the technology into their curriculum. Lastly, I used Adobe Connect to interview one of my research participants in South Korea. It has proven to be a useful data collection tool as it records both audio and video.
During my last year at Kirkwood Community College, the Information Technology department secured a college-wide license for Zoom that enabled all faculty to use the web conferencing software for their classes. Over the past few years, I have developed my skills with Zoom on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. More recently, I have found Zoom to be the most reliable service for conducting synchronous online interviews for my qualitative research projects. What I like most about using Zoom for research is that it is easy for my participants to set up with little to no explanation and that recorded videos automatically save to my hard drive.
Skype & Google Hangouts
Skype and Google Hangouts are the more popular and more easily accessible Internet-video conference (IVC) programs. I have been using both for personal and professional purposes for years. Although not ideal for continuous classroom usage, I have found Skype and Google Hangouts to be more helpful for professional development purposes, connecting with other teachers and researchers from around the world.
For my pilot study, I used Skype to interview a sojourning ELT in Germany. When I was in Russia serving as a Senior English Language Fellow, I used Skype to connect two elementary school classrooms from different cities.
I have discovered that many sojourning ELTs have used Google Hangouts to share and exchange their ideas and experiences and I wish to join these communities soon. The advantage of Google Hangouts is that it can be immediately broadcast and later published on YouTube.
Blending Learning without Video Conferencing
I have found success with developing blended learning professional development opportunities for Kirkwood Community College faculty. My former department (KCELT) discovered that it was difficult to get a group of faculty together in the same place at the same time during the academic year. To remedy this, I developed a blended learning model that begins with an online component mainly for the purpose of forming and maintaining a discussion forum. Throughout a semester, I collaborate with the faculty to determine a time and place for three face-to-face meetings. This has shown to be more convenient for the faculty, and it provides me the opportunity to learn more about the Kirkwood Community College campuses and regional centers in the seven counties in Eastern Iowa that it serves.
The best working blended learning model starts with an online discussion forum for introductions, discussing our expectations for the course, and setting up a time and place for our first face-to-face meeting. The next four weeks have two or three online discussion forums with two face-to-face meetings occurring within the same time frame. The last week is reserved for a final face-to-face meeting for final reflection, which includes formal and informal evaluations of the course and the experience as a whole. This model has shown to have a higher success rate with retaining interested faculty throughout the duration of the course.
Learning Management Systems
I have the most extensive experience with D2L. When I was a graduate assistant for the Education Technology Center at the University of Iowa, I was trained on the university’s custom D2L LMS at the time to help professors and students in the College of Education build and navigate through courses on the system. I also learned how to design courses on D2L for online and blended learning. A few years later, as technology coordinator at Southern Illinois University, I helped our department transition from Moodle to D2L, which the rest of the university was using. One of the main reasons for this transition was to help international students become accustomed to using the LMS.
When I started working as an instructional designer, Kirkwood Community College was using Angel as its LMS. I easily transferred my online and blended learning design skills from D2L to Angel, where I offering personalized professional development opportunities for faculty. Similarly, at Southern Illinois University, my department was using Moodle when I started there. I found Moodle more user-friendly than Angel for faculty. For both jobs, I helped instructors transition away from these LMS’s.
I am currently working at Rend Lake College, which uses Blackboard as its LMS. However, the majority of my students are coming from high schools that use Google Classroom. Since Rend Lake does not require its instructors to use Blackboard, I gave my students the option to continue using Google Classroom, and they all took it. Within a month before starting this job, Google gave me free access to its Classroom LMS while I was exploring LMS’s for a pilot blended learning English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum I am designing. As an avid user of Google Drive and Google Documents, I am finding Google Classroom an exciting option for adjunct and independent teachers and teacher trainers. That said, I am acquainting myself with Blackboard for another Rend Lake College course in the event to diversify my LMS course development experiences.