Enriching the Teaching/learning Process with Computers: Spreading the Word on a College Campus

Article excerpt

Ohio Dominican College (ODC), a private, four-year, liberal arts institution with about 1,800 students, established its Dominican Learning Network (DLN) with the help of a U.S. Department of Education Title III grant from 1994-1999. Each faculty and staff member received a computer and printer. Three state-of-the art computer classrooms were built in the library and science buildings. Several banks of computer stations were constructed for student use, and classrooms and offices across campus were equipped with data ports. Finally, the network's operating and office systems were brought up and running--thereby linking the entire campus in cyberspace.

The college's mandate for the DLN clearly focused on using computers to facilitate student learning within the college curriculum and on increasing the number of faculty who utilized technology in instruction from 10% in 1993 to 80% in 1999. Faculty and staff attended on-campus training sessions on topics such as Word, e-mail, HTML and search engines. They also participated in campus-wide discussions about student learning styles and the competencies students would need for living and working in the 21st century.

Small groups of faculty visited other college campuses to see their Computer networks and applications first hand, though some of these visits did not yield much useful information because of more extensive support services available at the other colleges and significantly different student demographics. Other faculty members read books and articles and visited Web sites about the use of technology in college teaching. The interest level on the part of most faculty and staff was high.

Problem Lies in Lack of Sharing

Faculty and staff members began to try various computer applications in their classrooms and offices. However, few faculty were aware of what their colleagues, even those in their own departments, were doing with technology to facilitate student learning. Further, faculty had no way of easily and systematically obtaining this information short of questioning their peers on an informal basis. Faculty also lacked information on a variety of instructionally useful yet easy-to-implement applications.

Solution: The ODC Ideabook

A committee of faculty members created the ODC Technology Ideabook: A Sourcebook of Faculty/Staff-Tested Ideas on Using Computers to Promote Student Learning and Make Life Easier.

The Ideabook is actually not a physical book, but rather a Web site that is reached quickly and easily from Ohio Dominican College's home page. It is designed to disseminate ideas originated by ODC faculty and staff across the entire campus. Using this vehicle, faculty and staff can conveniently exchange workable ideas with one another, use each other as resources and mentors, and in general become aware of how the community is using the DLN for educational purposes.

Six faculty members in education, philosophy, history, psychology and English, in addition to the Director of the Library, obtained ideas for the Ideabook. The Network Administrator provided the necessary technical assistance.

This committee designed a standard format that was used to record the details of each idea submission. Sections included:

* Title of idea;

* Type of application;

* Course in which idea was used;

* Description/purpose;

* Student learning objectives;

* How to implement the idea;

* Evaluation;

* Comments;

* Suggestions for variations/follow-up; and

* Contributor information.

To begin the project, the committee targeted potential contributors who represented a cross-section of the campus community. Contributors were contacted by phone and half-hour interviews were conducted with them to record their ideas. Contributors were also offered the option of filling in the form themselves, but most opted for the interview. …