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Academic Technology

Getting Back in the Groove: DELTA is Here to Help

Welcome to a new academic year at NC State! As always, DELTA is delighted to be your partner in digital education, and we are looking forward to supporting you again this year as you create impactful learning experiences for your students.

As I begin my preparations for fall, I am optimistic. I am excited about a number of new tools available for instructors to use that DELTA supports. I realize that I, too, am a learner within the context of rapidly evolving trends and technologies. While I’m curious about new tools and opportunities for innovation, I often feel so busy with competing priorities that I need to give myself leeway to not do everything at once.

I love teaching; my enthusiasm for my field and my enjoyment working with students never dulls. And while I am intrigued about the new tools available to me, I’m considering how and when to learn more about them. I’m certainly thinking about how artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT will impact my course. I’m also thinking about how to ensure that my class has a student-focused, caring foundation, while at the same time maintains high academic standards.

While getting ready to teach my own class, an online graduate class in instructional systems design, I read an article that resonates with me about using a Trauma Informed Instructional Design approach when designing your class; in brief, asking us to underpin everything we do with care. I was interested in this article, in part because models of instructional design (ID) fall within my area of expertise, and I plan on sharing it with my students and having them reflect on this approach when we review the more traditional ADDIE ID model. I’m also interested in this model because student mental health is in the forefront of our minds in so many ways.

In spring, 2023, the NC State Mental Health Task Force identified several recommendations, including supporting a culture of care to help our students. Wearing my instructor hat, this means providing reasonable flexibility for the students in my class and thinking about how to intentionally build relationships with students and to establish an online community for the course. I’m building the fall wellness day (September 19) into my calendar, and adding more wellness resources to my syllabus for students. At the same time, I’m attuned to the fact that I need to take care of myself as well, and I encourage you to do the same!

In addition to approaching this fall within a mindset of care, I’m also curious. I’m going into this new semester considering ChatGPT and the impact of AI on education. AI is already around us; just start typing an email in Google and the tool tries to finish your sentences if you have the Smart Compose setting on. You might be thinking to yourself, does that sound like my authentic voice when I accept (or delete) a suggestion? Gmail is also kind enough to nudge me if an email has been sitting without any action.

Our academic colleagues across the country are contemplating AIs impact on education, and a number of thoughtful resources have been published such as: (1) Practical Responses to ChatGPT and Other Generative AI, (2) ChatGPT and AI Text Generators: Should Academia Adapt or Resist and (3) ChatGPT: Let’s Not All Panic At Once]. DELTA is thinking about this issue, and we are offering a workshop on August 9 about Using Generative AI for Efficient Workflow. We are also collaborating with others on campus, such as the Office for Faculty Excellence, and will be offering seminars this year to collectively reflect on the appropriate use of AI in academia. In the meantime, I will continue to dig into articles and blogs about the impact of AI on Instructional Design and to think about how it impacts my field, the way we work and the way we teach and learn.

I’m also curious about the new tools DELTA is supporting this fall and how they can support me in building community in my online course. Yellowdig is a new tool in our instructional toolkit and offers a novel way to facilitate connections and rich conversation. (One of our faculty members was recently recognized by Yellowdig for “Excellent STEM use.”) Perusall is another great platform for engaging students, and it allows for collaborative reading, annotating and discussion. And of course I’m going to rely on tried and true tools, including Moodle, Zoom and Panopto. They also have new features to try out; for example, the Moodle Roadmap is a way to guide students through your course, visually mapping out your activities in one place.

To get you started, DELTA is offering a Moodle Boot Camp this fall on using instructional technologies at NC State, and we hope you’ll join us for the in-person or online session. If the Boot Camp doesn’t work for your schedule, keep in mind we can offer you individual consultations, and we also maintain a robust knowledge base and online tutorials. (And be sure to check out our WolfSNAPS Online Course Design Series!)

Do you want a visible way to illustrate your savvy digital teaching skills in your Research, Promotion and Tenure portfolio? We are offering a collection of digital badges via Credly that can be displayed in an email signature, in the instructor block in Moodle, on your LinkedIn page, etc. to help you demonstrate your commitment to professional development.

Colleagues, there are a lot of tools and resources available that we are happy to help you with, and I encourage you to try out new things and take advantage of our services on your own time. Back to my earlier thought on the importance of self-care and being curious, I know it takes time and effort to learn and apply new tools and pedagogies thus taking a slower, incremental approach might be best. Try things out, see how they work in your context and build your own personalized toolkit. I hope that you are as optimistic as I am about the possibilities, and that you remember that you have a deep well of support available to you.

Have a wonderful fall semester and whatever you decide is best for your instructional needs, DELTA is here to help!