FAYETTE, Iowa (March 12, 2010) — Upper Iowa University has awarded three Teaching with Technology grants to encourage use of advanced technologies in the classroom to enhance student learning and overall academic quality.
“As a forward-focused University, we encourage our faculty members to explore the use of new and emerging technologies that will make them better teachers and give UIU students a better education,” said UIU President Alan G. Walker. “Keeping pace with the technology that is reshaping society’s future, keeps UIU in the vanguard of higher education.”
Nigel George, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics and physics, received a grant for a project entitled, “Enhancing Distance Education of Mathematics.” George plans to introduce the use of cyber pads and webcams with microphones for his online course, “Discrete Math,” this summer. George said use of the cyber pads will reduce barriers between pen-and-paper technology and the online teaching format and help improve communication between the students and faculty member. Students also will receive online training in how to use the equipment.
“Asking and answering math questions online via a computer with a text-based interface is difficult because we frequently need to use non-text mathematical symbols and draw diagrams to help explain the problems,” George said. “This technology should enable us to more effectively exchange information remotely, which is becoming more important for a variety of other disciplines as well.”
George partnered with Jennifer Stoffel, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, to receive another grant entitled, “Enhancing Presentations via the Use of Pen-based Technologies in the Classroom.” The project will use tablet monitors in classrooms in Baker Hebron as well as wireless computers and wireless digital pens that will allow faculty to write directly onto a computer screen while teaching a class. These courses will be the first use of digital pens by UIU faculty, according to the proposal.
“I gained experience with the tablet monitors last fall when we had a couple of students who had to stay out of the classroom due to H1N1 symptoms,” Stoffel said. “Using the tablet monitor allowed students to easily see the calculations or essay questions being done from anywhere in the classroom or through the Tegrity system, which we use to capture some of our classes for future use. Students can keep pace with what is going on in the classroom or catch up with missed classes much more easily. The addition of a digital pen to this process should make it an even more effective technology.”
UIU awarded the third grant to Redmond Humphrey, assistant professor of management, for a proposal entitled, “Strengthening Student Engagement and Collaborative Skills with Participative Technology.” The project will integrate the use of wireless tablets into courses being taught through the Business Division, both on the Fayette campus as well as at other UIU locations.
“The portability and independence of the wireless tablets will facilitate the integration of diverse team members located across UIU centers to communicate and share ideas quickly and efficiently in an interactive manner. Ideas can be uploaded easily into the team’s file, enriching and adding cohesiveness that strengthens team identity,” Humphrey said. “For example, another faculty member and I are currently discussing offering a course next fall in Fayette and Hong Kong in which our syllabi would have common activities on which student teams could collaborate via the wireless tablets.”
Walker said that to help replicate use of the technology across other academic courses, each awardee will present their results to all faculty during UIU annual in-service days.
Monica Bayer Heaton
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
About Upper Iowa University
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to over 6,600 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.