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Summer Shorts Connects Faculty with Technology

Have you ever felt like you knew what you wanted to do, but you just didn’t know where to start?

Instructors face this dilemma semester after semester as they question whether or not online resources are appropriate for their courses. While many faculty only need polishing up on skills and technologies they are currently utilizing, others are unaware of the options and opportunities available. Summer Shorts in Instructional Technologies, a teaching and learning with technologies program, serves as a great resource for instructors to learn how to improve on what they are currently doing as well as explore new ideas for the classroom. Summer Shorts provides the perfect chance for faculty to brush up on their knowledge of available technologies and services that can improve student success.

Summer Shorts “is a week-long program with tracks, or themes” stated Associate Director, Instructional Technology Training Ashley Grantham. The on-campus event hosts faculty members, DELTA staff and campus partners like the Office of Faculty Development as speakers, teaching a range of workshops lasting approximately 60-75 minutes. However, the available courses change each year.

“It’s like going to a conference, but you don’t have to go somewhere,” said Dr. Tim Petty, microbiology professor and 2015 Summer Shorts top attender.

Petty’s first fully online course, medical microbiology, launched in 2009. Since then, he has continually updated bits of information to remain current but says he still uses a large amount of the material originally recorded. He also noted the amount of assistance he received on this project, highlighting instruction on Mediasite from Larry Evans.

“I couldn’t have done it without [him],” he stated, “Larry just went above and beyond to make it possible.”

Since Petty’s success with Mediasite and other instructional technologies, he has attended Summer Shorts as a way to stay up to date with new features and technologies and to simply “see what’s out there.”

“Participant feedback, workshop evaluations and trends in higher education also inform our decisions about the curriculum,” said Grantham.

However, when it comes to selecting sessions, Petty selects the most eye-catching ones. This year he attended nine workshops on topics ranging from Moodle design to social media, with everything from gamification to video production and learning analytics in between.

According to the microbiology professor, students have a hard time understanding immunology. Thus, Petty decided to explore gamification for his course in hopes that it will help help students grasp this hard concept. He attended the workshop, Gamification—An Effective Strategy to Engage Your Students, taught by Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management faculty member Ed Lindsay. During this session, Petty learned more about how long it would take to develop the gamification feature, how Lindsay was using it in his courses and new ideas on how to improve his students’ learning experience.

Petty also sat in on 21st Century Communication Skills: Developing Student Competencies in the Professional Use of Social Media taught by Dede Nelson and Nicole Huff. Although seemingly unrelated to his role in the College of Sciences, Petty was drawn to this particular session because, like the gamification course, it was one of three sessions taught by faculty members he met as part of his cohort group in the 2013 Office of Faculty Development’s Summer Institute on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

“You see your peers doing great work and talking about it. It gave me a kick,” said Petty. “I was curious about what people were up to.”

Petty also attended two workshops focused on instructional videos. While in these sessions, Petty says he learned about various types of videos, how to record these clips and the dos and don’ts of the process in general. He hopes to incorporate videos in his Moodle site to help students better grasp abstract concepts. He would like to add this video component in addition to gamification.

Admittedly not an early adopter, Petty’s curious nature keeps him coming back to learn more about how to better motivate students to learn. His desire to create easy to use, interesting online material for his students continues to grow as he annually attends Summer Shorts workshops organized by DELTA staff.

“I’ve enjoyed every interaction with DELTA. It’s a great unit,” he said.