Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Promoting Cooperation to Enhance Teaching with Technology1

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Promoting Cooperation to Enhance Teaching with Technology1

Article excerpt

Abstract

Faculty members have varying expertise, enthusiasm, and support for teaching with technology. The present project for animal science faculty was designed to: 1) increase faculty comfort level in computer-based teaching; 2) strengthen faculty communication with local and regional resources; 3) help faculty develop skills and identify relevant applications; and 4) recruit submissions to regional teaching databases in animal genetics, nutrition, and physiology. The University of Connecticut, Cornell University, and Rutgers University collaborated to conduct hands-on workshops for each of 14 participating institutions and to provide opportunities for further exploration, learning, and informationsharing. Up to three workshop participants from each institution received monetary awards for followup projects. Projects resulted in technological resources for both in-person and online instruction. Regional workshops in the following two years offered participants the opportunity to share their accomplishments and challenges and set goals for further activities. This project and its related activities increased interaction among faculty and instructional technology staff and has provided a strong base for continued collaborative efforts among universities to support and promote applications of technology in teaching animal science.

Introduction

This project emphasized a cooperative model for encouraging and supporting the implementation of teaching technologies in animal science. A consortium, initially known as the Mid-Atlantic Consortium (MAC), established the Animal Science Collaborative Agreement to enhance cooperation and share information at departmental, institutional, regional and national levels for the institutions involved. The consortium was later renamed the Animal Science Education Consortium (ASEC). Collaboration among faculty within and between universities is common in academia, but more prevalent in research than teaching (Mizell and Carl, 1994).

Most faculty face the ongoing challenge of multiple competing demands of teaching, research, and outreach, aggravated by shrinking resources. An added pressure for animal science departments in the northeast results from major changes in demographics, science, society, and industry. Applications of biotechnology and molecular biology, as well as demands for courses on companion, laboratory, wild, and exotic animals are common in the region. Although consumers continue to expect adequate production and distribution of wholesome food, traditional courses such as livestock and dairy production have lower enrollments at some institutions. At the same time, courses in animal reproduction, physiology, biotechnology, and other areas sometimes stretch departmental resources to the maximum limit. Additionally, animal science graduates pursue and obtain a diverse array of positions working for veterinarians, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, or employers connected with animal control, food safety, and zoonotic disease control. The overall goal of this regional coalition was to improve faculty efficiency by enhancing communication and sharing information and resources in education, research, and outreach.

Technology related to teaching and learning is advancing at a pace that makes it difficult to keep fully up-to-date, even with applications and equipment that are used every day. It is challenging to learn and try new instructional methods, and complicated to keep track of an exponentially increasing number of available options that may potentially enhance teaching and learning.

Individual faculty members incorporate technology into undergraduate and graduate instruction at widely varying levels. Some faculty members have taught for many years without technology and prefer to continue using the same methods; others cannot get enough of the bells and whistles and enthusiastically embrace new technology to support their pedagogy and to improve instruction and learning. …

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