2007 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 24, 2007
HUB West Ballroom

Session Description


Supporting Classroom Discussion with Technology:
A Case Study in Environmental Science

Tom Hinckley, Natalie Linnell, Richard Anderson, Jim Fridley, Sarah Reichard, and Valentin Razmov
College of Forest Resources, Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering


We describe how technology is used in the classroom to support our pedagogical goals in teaching several Environmental Science courses. In 2003 we revised our junior level course sequence to utilize an interdisciplinary, problem-solving focus and to foster active- and experiential-based learning. This naturally led to changes in instructional format and pedagogy, with an increased emphasis on student participation, in-class activities, and stronger ties with the field component of the course. We initially implemented these changes through traditional means. However, the results from these were frequently not satisfying for either the student or instructor. Often exercises only engaged a portion of the class or exercises took too long and became cumbersome as a result of the medium chosen. 

Starting in winter 2006, we were able to use networked Tablet PCs running Classroom Presenter™ to facilitate students’ in-class interaction with the instructional materials and the class. Lectures were developed using traditional Powerpoint™ slides, converted to the Classroom Presenter™ software. Groups of two students were then periodically and formally engaged in designed exercises. Exercise preparation and integration into each lecture in itself facilitated improved instructional attention to pedagogy and greater clarity of material for the students. Instructor and student assessment suggested significant increases in student participation.  In addition, instructors and students found the technology beneficial to teaching and learning, respectively.



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