Taking the next steps in digital learning

- January 24, 2013

Instructional designers Adrienne Sehatzadeh and Aaron Panych. (Nick Pearce photo)
Instructional designers Adrienne Sehatzadeh and Aaron Panych. (Nick Pearce photo)

The teams from Dal’s Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) and Integrated Learning Online (ILO) are making it easier for faculty to incorporate educational technologies into their teaching.

Two staff members from ILO — instructional designers Aaron Panych and Adrienne Sehatzadeh — have merged with the CLT team, providing a one-stop location for teachers looking to expand or grow their teaching efforts.

“It’s our hope that it makes the process easier for faculty,” explains Suzanne Le-May Sheffield, interim director of CLT. “It reinforces to our community that educational technologies and teaching skills are not two separate things.”

“It gives more weight to the pedagogy side of our work,” says Panych, who’s been with ILO for close to three years and who has a Master’s of Education with a Distance Education specialty.

“We deeply feel that technology has the potential to enhance learning,” he says. “That’s the starting point, but it’s easy to get caught up in treating technology as simply bells and whistles, which isn’t good for faculty or students. The exciting part is helping faculty identify aspects of technology that enhance their teaching approaches.”

Tech that builds on pedagogy

Sehatzadeh has a Master’s in Adult Education and was a program coordinator with the School of Social Work before joining ILO in 2005. (She’s half-time with CLT and half-time with Continuing Medical Education in faculty development). She says she sees more and more faculty looking to incorporate e-learning strategies into their course offerings, or offer a blended model within individual classes.

“Faculty who have been getting their feet wet are coming to us more and more asking about next steps,” she says. “They’re asking about moving exams, labs, discussions and other activities online. They can sometimes be skeptical at first, because they know their students are savvy: students see through tech for tech’s sake. The technology has to add value, and we’re here to help identify those opportunities that work for individual faculty members.”

The integration between CLT and these two Instructional Designers from ILO is a pilot project at the moment, but the hope is that, if effective, they will become a permanent part of how the unit works. Helping inform this integration will be an IT assessment survey due to be sent out towards the end of the winter term to better identify the needs and interests of Dal faculty and students when it comes to e-learning and teaching support.

Faculty who wish to connect either Aaron or Adrienne to discuss e-learning approaches for their courses can contact the Centre for Learning and Teaching to set up a consultation at clt@dal.ca. You can also visit the CLT website to check out its many upcoming professional development events.


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