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Colleges and universities across the country are rising to the challenge of utilizing technology in the classroom and meeting the demands of students in the technology age. St. Norbert College is not far behind the pack with a new faculty initiative.

Last February, President Kunkel and the Office of Faculty Development led a forum called “eLearning in the Digital Age.” This forum was held to raise awareness of the growing trend in higher education to make use of digital technologies in the classroom.

Dean Jeffery Frick then appointed a panel of faculty members called the “Digital Learning Initiative” task group (DLI) to continue with the discussion.

Members of the task group include Paul Johnson, associate professor of philosophy, Reid Riggle, associate professor of education, Gratzia Villarroel, associate professor of political science, John Frohliger, associate professor of mathematics, Blake Hensen, assistant professor of music and Kristin Vogel, director of the library.

The group has released a DLI report on technology in higher education. The report includes the context of the discussion up until now: a history of digital learning, the group’s guiding principles, the group’s recommendations, and the group’s vision statement.

The vision statement of the DLI is: “St. Norbert College shall work to establish and foster a culture of collaborative entrepreneurship across the campus which incentivizes, supports and acknowledges the development and successful incorporation of digital learning skills and technologies into the educational Mission of the College.”

The task group is interested in the pedagogy, or the teaching techniques, implementing technology in classroom and what this can bring to education.

One of the guiding principles in the document is, “Change is imminent, and St. Norbert College must adapt.”

“Until now, the discussion was kept to faculty and staff at St. Norbert College,” said Johnson, “but now an important next step in the process is to involve the students to broaden the conversation.”

The committee plans on taking the next step of involving students through general surveys and forums which students along with the St. Norbert College community would be invited to attend.

“I would like to see student focus groups,” said Riggle. “I think a focus group would be more structured and the dialogue would contain specific questions or concerns.”

An example of one of the questions the DLI has is the use of social media in higher education. Social media does not always transfer to the classroom and the task group needs the students’ opinions and thoughts on why this is.

There are two ideas the DLI has presented to boost technology in the classroom. The first is to provide faculty with a small stipend to promote the use of technology. The second is to delegate one faculty member in each discipline to be the technology advisor.

“The committee has the idea of the full spectrum pedagogy,” said Johnson, “One end of the spectrum holds the traditional professors and the other end holds the entrepreneur professors with all the colors in between.”

The committee values both ends of the spectrum because both are extremely valuable to the Liberal Arts experience.

Something the task group is aware of is the push and pull of the spectrum. “If we lean far towards technology then what do we lose in the classroom?” said Johnson.

“It’s important to maintain balance,” said Riggle, “We don’t want to leap into technology, but what is the best course environment as we progress into the future?”

The school plans to place implementing technology into higher education high on the school’s Strategic Plan.

This article was originally posted at http://www.snctimes.com/news/faculty-initiative-technology-in-the-classroom-1.2808205#.T1Wmml21uT4

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