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Northwestern University

Technology in the Classroom

TEACHx 2016 showcases the innovative use of tech-driven pedagogical tools

Northwestern IT’s Academic & Research Technologies — or A&RT — unit exists to help faculty challenge pedagogical conventions in the classroom.

That effort took a mighty step forward on May 16 when nearly 150 university faculty members, including about 40 from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, gathered at the Norris Center for TEACHx, a first-of-its-kind event designed to help faculty explore different academic technology tools and practices to enhance student learning and success.

“We are focused on helping faculty experiment in the classroom and fostering risk-taking in pedagogy, and we want faculty across the campus to know that they are not alone if they want to try something new in their classroom,” A&RT manager of faculty support services Vicky Getis says.

Constructed to complement a pair of existing annual faculty forums — a learning and assessment forum sponsored by the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching as well as a best practices forum sponsored by the Office of the Provost that explores the administrative side or courses — TEACHx was designed with an explicit focus on teaching.

The day-long, University-wide event featured breakout sessions in which current Northwestern faculty shared the innovative ways they have incorporated technology into the classroom, such as blended learning, online learning, analytics and active learning spaces.

A dozen Weinberg faculty members presented a range of educational technology topics ranging from creating interactive videos for language learning and flipped instruction to video conferencing and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The inaugural event also included digital poster presentations in which 50-inch LCD displays showcased the innovative ways that faculty members are using technology in the classroom, as well as a technology “petting zoo” that featured compelling pedagogical innovations.

A&RT senior director Bob Taylor says TEACHx provided an opportunity to further support a growing educational technology community at Northwestern.

“Instructors were talking to other instructors about development, the receptiveness of students and best practices about incorporating technology into the classroom,” Taylor says, “and it’s this type of dialogue that enhances the great work faculty across Northwestern are doing in their classrooms.”

Taylor and Getis both acknowledge rising faculty interest in innovative pedagogical tools and methods and they hope TEACHx sparks further collaboration between instructors and educational technology specialists eager to pursue new possibilities in the classroom.

“There are clever solutions that people might not be aware of, but also plenty of support across the University to help instructors push the envelope in the classroom,” Getis says.

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