There are any number of ways to nudge your faculty toward confident and inspired Education 3.0 technology use. Here are some approaches to model by.
Mary Jo Garcia Biggs never really considered herself much of a technophile. Sure, the assistant professor at Texas State University-San Marcos knew her way around a web page, but for years, she was painfully aware of all of the technologies she didn't know much about. More times than not, the limitations of her knowledge frustrated the heck out of her. But everything changed in 2005. As a faculty member in Texas State's School of Social Work, Biggs was eligible to participate in the institution's annual two-week Technology Integration Workshop. From 9:30 am to 4 every afternoon, Biggs and 14 other "students" learned everything from how to master PowerPoint, to how to get the most from videoconferencing. Biggs says she also mastered the basics of developing an online class.
"Everything I learned there, I use today," says the educator, who received a $1,200 stipend for participating in the program. "Before I took the workshop, I was interested in technology, but I didn't really 'get' it. Now I truly recognize the benefits, and am doing everything in my power to [bring those benefits to my students]."
Texas State is not the only school inspiring faculty to increase their tech savvy. Across the country, a growing number of colleges and universities are offering similar programs and stipends designed to incent educators to embrace technology. The thinking behind most of these programs is simple: By offering educators an immediate motivation to embrace technology, colleges and universities hope to ensure that their best teachers will implement the latest and greatest technologies, and innovate with them, to bring new levels of learning to their students. In other words: Everybody wins.
In fact, incentive programs come in many different flavors and run the gamut from educator workshops to investments in tech incubator classrooms, grants (see "Piece of the PIE"), and more. Whatever the strategy, one thing is certain: Incenting tech savvy is one way to keep curriculum moving full tilt toward Education 3.0.
At the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, faculty members can receive grants from $500 to $2,500 for technology innovation, and the school also offers an annual Teaching Excellence Award funded by Bank of America.
Back to School
The Texas State Technology Integration Workshop program is the brainchild of Milt Nielsen, assistant VP of instructional technologies support for the school. Nielsen launched the program in the summer of 2002, and since then, a total of 82 educators have completed the twoweek course. Texas State awards each of the workshop participants a $1,200 stipend, but Nielsen says this is more for their time than anything else. The overarching goals are to enable faculty to develop a "project plan" for a specific instructional problem that effectively incorporates instructional design principles and appropriate technology, and to take steps to implement and evaluate that plan. According to Nielsen, another goal of the workshop is to help faculty build a community of practice to support their instructional goals. "In support of these goals, the educators are taught basic instructional design as well as how to operate and implement basic hardware and software technologies," he says.
Biggs certainly experienced this firsthand. During the first week of the workshop, she and her fellow "classmates" sat through seminars that covered instructional design concepts such as learner characteristics, course planning, types of learning, objectives, instructional strategies, assessment strategies, and media selection. During the second week, participants signed up for special-interest sessions related to learning, teaching, and technology.
Individual consultations also were available with two visiting lecturers: Willi Savenye, a professor of psychology in education at b, and Mike Spector, associate director of the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University. "Their expertise was invaluable," Biggs says of these scholars. "It's been a few years and I still keep in touch."
A similar professional development curriculum is offered annually at the University of Michigan. There, the Enriching Scholarship program includes seminars and workshops on all sorts of teaching and learning technologies, including blogs, wikis, podcasting, Second Life, and more. In all, the program consists of anywhere from 100 to 140 sessions in a single week (usually in May). This past year, popular classes included those about Del.icio.us and Sakai.
Laurie Sutch, instructional facilities coordinator for the University of Michigan University Library, says that last year alone the program attracted 600 individual participants. This year-- the program's eleventh-- even more attendees were expected; as many as 800, according to Sutch. And if anyone at the university knows about the Enriching Scholarship program, she does. The library, where she works, is one of 10 or so organizations on campus which coordinate the event. Among the participating units: the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, the Digital Media Commons, the Language Resource Center, the Science Learning Center, and the IT Central Services Unit.
Sutch says collaboration between these groups has made the university's incentive programs a reality. "The whole idea is to get a collaborative group of organizations and people involved," she says. "The more people who plan this thing, the more diverse the course offerings will be."
Perhaps the greatest difference between Michigan's Enriching Scholarship program and Texas State's Technology Integration Workshop is the stipend-- Michigan doesn't offer one. But that doesn't mean there's no carrot: Faculty members who participate in the program receive professional development credits for taking part. Moreover, Sutch adds, through the Teaching With Technology Institute (a separate fiveday program), faculty members can submit proposals for the use of technology in teaching, and receive up to $2,500 in funding to implement their ideas for novel uses of technology in teaching. (For a list of 2007 stipend winners from the Teaching With Technology Institute, visit here.)
Inspiring Web 2.0
While some higher education institutions incent faculty members to embrace technology by offering workshops and seminars, other institutions employ different strategies, such as monetary and other awards.
At the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, for instance, the provost's office awards grants from $500 to $2,500 to certain faculty members for technology innovation. Valorie McAlpin, director of the school's Faculty Center for Teaching and eLearning, says her organization also offers an annual Teaching Excellence Award funded by Bank of America, and that this award celebrates a particular educator's use of technology. McAlpin notes that the UNC system also makes available additional grant funds to faculty interested in developing online courses for the system. "UNC is committed to celebrating tech-savvy educators," she says. "From that, we all win."
Piece of the Pie
Looking for grants to motivate faculty tech use? Maybe it's time to look inside your ivy-covered walls.
MOVE OVER, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION. Look out, Department of Defense. At Eastern Illinois University, one of the most prolific funding organizations for inspiring educators to embrace technology is…you guessed it: Eastern Illinois University itself.
Through a campus organization called the Center for Academic Technology Support (CATS), the school provides a total of $110,000 each year to incent faculty members to embrace technology. Most of this money is distributed in the form of grants dubbed Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation-or PIE-grants. Over the last three years, more than 50 projects have been funded this way.
According to Michael Hoadley, assistant VP for academic affairs for technology, the PIE program works like any other grant program. There are four colleges on campus, and CATS distributes $20,000 of the $110,000 sum to each school (the other $30,000 is set aside to fund projects that are not affiliated with a particular college).With this money in hand, each college sets up its own technology review committee-- usually a group of educators, users, and representatives from CATS. Ultimately, each committee can decide to break up the $20,000 into as many PIE grants as it sees fit. Projects are encouraged to inspire faculty collaboration and multipurpose use. "The overall goal has been to help supply seed money to support faculty members' creative ideas regarding how technology can be used as part of the academic programs and curricula," he says. "The projects are funded with the understanding that they will benefit the faculty member and his or her students, as well as be part of the departmental and college technology plans."
To date, CATS (which is funded by the university's Office of Academic Affairs) has given PIE grants for projects that span the technological gamut. Several of these projects have been related to special interests such as the use of electronic databases; others were designed to support communication and multimedia tools such as videoconferencing. One project, for example, centered on WebEx to control computers and devices in different laboratories. And most recently, CATS doled out a PIE grant to fund a project for developing biometrics and facial recognition software.
In addition to these programs, Hoadley notes that the CATS budget also includes up to $20,000 annually in professional development grants to faculty, for travel to attend technology conferences.With these grants, faculty members can receive up to $1,000 apiece to support travel and expenses (departments are expected to pick up some of the costs as well).
Hoadley reports that in the past three years, about 75 faculty members have benefited from this program and "have returned to integrate new ideas into their teaching, research, and service activities." Now, that's money well spent.
Pacific University (OR) has its own way of incenting tech-savvy faculty: There, under a program recently unveiled by the Information Services department, educators receive technology products for participating in research on podcasting and student response systems. The podcasting effort was rolled out first: This past winter, after a group of 12 faculty members expressed interest in learning about podcasting, the IS department lined up formal media training from Apple, with the proviso that the educators officially report about what they learned. To sweeten the deal, Lee Colaw, VP/IS, persuaded Apple to donate the 30-gigabyte video iPods.
"The faculty would have been satisfied with this cutting-edge knowledge, but we wanted to give them something extra for all of their extra work," says Colaw. "That additional incentive can go a long way toward motivating people to go beyond the call of duty."
Building on the success of the podcasting endeavor, two other faculty members embarked on a completely different effort this spring. This second project revolved around student response systems-- technologies like those available from vendors such as Interwrite Learning. After researching the market and the technology, the educators presented their findings in a report to Colaw and his team. Colaw, in turn, rewarded the two faculty members with a suitcase full of Interwrite student response clickers that they can take from classroom to classroom, and use in their lectures.
Funding for these programs came directly out of Pacific's IS budget. Colaw says he could have spent the money for training or orientations, but he notes that it "seemed like a better idea" to reallocate it for these purposes. Looking ahead, the IS VP says he's already researching similar programs for next year, including an effort to incent language department faculty to investigate new technologies that can help them there.
"It's not that we have to 'teach' our educators and then 'force' them to do this," he says. "In most cases, because these are their ideas, our teachers are motivated for all the right reasons to get out there and learn. Our role is simply to reward them for that."
At Western Kentucky University, IT leaders believe that bringing 700 classrooms technologically into the 'future,' and then training faculty to use all the costly new gizmos, should be incentive enough. But they're planning to incent educators who can 'master' their new technologies.
Investing in Classrooms
Not every school incents an exclusive group of tech-savvy faculty with workshops, stipends, and awards; at Western Kentucky University, IT leaders have embraced the idea of spending money to incent all faculty equally.
In an effort to inspire educators to build more of their lessons around technology, the university's strategy has hinged on upgrading many of the school's 700 classrooms with the latest and greatest hardware and software, and training educators with the knowledge to use the equipment on their own. Most of these separate upgrade investments have been in the five-figure range, and include everything from basic lecterns and DVD/VCR combination units to sophisticated document cameras. A handful of the classrooms also feature controllers (from Crestron Electronics), either handheld or touch-screen devices that enable educators to manage all of the technology from one device.
Thus far, response to this program has been overwhelmingly positive. Justin Rexing, the university's coordinator of classroom technology, says that his department upgraded nine classrooms to start, but as educators began experiencing the benefits of the new technology, word of mouth spread and demand for "classrooms of the future" spiked. "At first, the reaction was, 'Oh, that new technology is really different and interesting,'" he says, looking back. "Gradually, though, as more and more educators realized the benefits of all of these new technologies, everyone jumped on board and wanted more."
Today, Western Kentucky's upgrade program is refreshing anywhere from 40 to 50 classrooms a year. Upgrades are based on department demand; intense interest from a particular department (usually in the form of signatures) generally moves that department up the list. Ordinarily speaking, once Rexing's department has installed the new equipment, IT staffers run training sessions on the hardware and software to familiarize educators with their new digs. These training sessions are mandatory; whether educators choose to apply the skills they learn is another story altogether.
"We're incenting our faculty by having all of the best stuff for them, then teaching them how to use it," Rexing says. "Those educators who want to become tech-savvy can embrace this any way they want; those who don't, well, they can do whatever they've always done."
The modernizing efforts are funded via a variety of sources including the schoolwide Classroom Technology Improvement Fund, a coffer in the provost's office that collects money for general classroom upgrades. Other funding sources are individual department budgets: At the beginning of each school year, every department receives a specified amount of equipment funding, and departments can use this money in any way they wish.
Down the road, Rexing expects to upgrade another 25 classrooms by the end of 2008, and anywhere from 75 to 100 classrooms during the next calendar year. He adds that over the next 12 to 18 months, Western Kentucky also may roll out new plans to reward those educators who seem most interested in mastering the latest technologies. "When it comes to technology, positive reinforcement is everything," he concedes. What's more, "If you want certain educators to lead by example, you've got to give them all the reason to do so."
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