Have an idea for improving your course? Learn how one faculty member got the help he needed

As a STEM education professor training the next generation of technologist, Todd Kelley understands the active learning and other pedagogical approaches needed to engage his students. But he’s quick to admit, he doesn’t always understand the educational technology tools.

“When I look at a tool like Blackboard, I know there are things I can do to make it better for my students,” says Kelley, an associate professor in the Polytechnic. “But with all those options, it’s helpful to be able to get guidance from someone who has worked closely with the technology and knows what all the options are.”

Seeking guidance while developing a new course, Kelley met with ITaP instructional design supervisor Wan Ju Huang, who’s part of a team of designers and educational technologists who provide one-on-one consultations with faculty and staff to help implement a specific technology or pedagogy.

Kelley’s new course combining the study of technology and anthropology, which he co-teaches with anthropology professor Sherylyn Briller, would require students to do field work, share data and complete a team-based project. He also wanted a way to avoid dealing with the varying formats – Word, Google docs, Notepad, email chains, and more – that students use to communicate, creating a logistical headache.

“So we needed to create a Blackboard course page that was more user friendly, where students could compile all of their information in a single place,” says Kelley.

Working with Huang, Kelley learned how to create group spaces within his Blackboard course, where students could use discussion boards and wikis for group projects. They also formatted the course in a way that was more intuitive for students, for example by adding  a start here menu link to explain the course’s structure.

“It helps to structure materials in a way millennials can understand, and that helps alleviate anxiety students have about where to put things,” says Kelley. “It helps the student and it helps me, because I’m not getting a lot of extra emails asking for help. It’s better for everyone.”

Kelley says a lot of what he’s done might seem relatively minor, but it’s made a big difference in keeping his course organized. He credits ITaP and Huang for providing the resources necessary and for giving him the help he needed to use them.

“Wan Ju was really helpful in helping me narrow down my options, and was able to provide the technical expertise that actually made it all possible,” says Kelley. “I encourage more faculty to take advantage of a consultation.”

Interested in a one-on-one consultation with an ITaP instructional designer or educational technologist? Curious about what technology options are available for your course? Contact tlt@purdue.edu to get started.


Did you know?

ITaP’s Teaching and Learning Technologies supports and enhances teaching and learning at Purdue by offering:

  • One-on-one consultation with educational technologists, who can help you choose the appropriate solution for your teaching and learning needs.
  • Faculty Professional Development, hands-on opportunities designed to help instructors learn best practices for using specific technology.
  • Course design, with the help of our team of instructional designers, who work with colleges and faculty to develop, redesign and review courses.

Contact tlt@purdue.edu to get started or to learn more.

Writer: Dave Stephens, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-496-7998, steph103@purdue.edu

Last updated: May 2, 2018