Photo of panel discussion “Learning Lessons the Easy Way”

"From Islands to Archipelago: Discovering Connections Across Faculty Experiences with Educational Technology," panel discussion “Learning Lessons the Easy Way”

Each fall and spring, NYU hosts a campus wide Technology Enhanced Education event to highlight emerging themes in educational technology. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, NYU IT and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT), previous themes included Active Teaching and Learning, Learning Analytics, Technology and the Economics of Higher Education, and New Findings from Neuroscience. Videos and event information can be found on the Conferences & Events page.   

This fall’s event Islands to Archipelago: Discovering Connections Across Faculty Experiences with Educational Technology punctuated shared experiences, challenges and findings across disciplines. According to a recent article “Teaching Teachers to Teach Online” in Inside Higher Education, informal and formal instructor gatherings provide a valuable space for faculty to share experiences and offer advice, “Some of the best training takes place when online instructors come together to discuss challenges and share best practices.”

In his keynote introduction to the event, the new Vice Provost for Educational Technology, Clay Shirky explained that at NYU the schools are the units of progress, but within the schools the faculty are the units of progress, “Every time I hear a story about a new school adopting a new tool that’s benefitting both the faculty and the students, when you peel it back there was a conversation between a faculty member and someone who understood what they were trying to do, and could meet them halfway.”

In the first panel of the day, titled “Learning Lessons the Easy Way,” Professor Erin Embry, Communicative Sciences & Disorders Professor at Steinhardt, explained that one of the challenges, but also one of the most creative parts of this new venture, was how to make client experiences live and interactive for students who are thousands of miles away, and make students feel they were part of one shared NYU course experience.

Joyce O’Connor, Clinical Associate Professor from the College of Global Public Health, shared the experience of collaboration and momentum gained from creating one online certificate program and quickly growing to a global online masters program, multiple certificates, cross continental programs, and blended courses. Simultaneously, faculty interest in participating in online learning is growing at a rapid pace.


In the second panel, “Demystifying Learning Analytics,” faculty and instructional technologists came together to discuss their experiences utilizing learning analytics to improve curriculum and to detect and help at-risk students achieve success. Speaking about his work on a flipped calculus course, Professor Yoav Bergner, Professor of Learning Sciences/Educational Technology at Steinhardt, described the challenges he faced when creating a model for analytics, and the implications for analytics across disciplines.

The next step in the calculus project is to engineer both technical and teacher/student interactions. This requires high quality and scalable interventions that  provide students in need with mastery-oriented support.

Across the spectrum of projects, faculty shared their experiences as informative, time consuming, and rewarding for both instructor and student alike. Aline Baehler, French Literature Professor, described her technology enhanced education project Papiers-Mâchés, an online French teaching and learning module, as a time of intense creativity and skill building, “It’s like being an artisan --  you do everything by hand and from scratch, but like a craft it’s also fun!”.   

Erin Embry, Communicative Sciences & Disorders Professor at Steinhardt described the transformational process of rethinking both her in-person course and fully online course in Occupational Therapy. She was also proud to reach students in remote geographies who might not otherwise have access to this caliber of program. “We have been able to reach a whole new audience and also feed a critical shortage that we had in our profession of speech language pathologists...I have one student who is a retired vet, a mother of three children all on the autism spectrum and her husband is in the military. So when you bring someone with that kind of experience into the classroom, already your level of discussion has skyrocketed because we have this outreach due to technology.”

Integrating thoughtful instructional practices with appropriate technology enables faculty and instructional designers to collaborate. Together, they are creating, curating, and experimenting in ways that are engaging students, and opening new doors for faculty to bring meaningful concepts and ideas to the classroom. From gaming platforms, ‘flipped’ video lectures and classrooms to fully online degree programs, these collaborations enable us to reach distributed communities of learners, and plumb new and innovative ways to teach or conduct educational research.

We hope you’ll join us for the spring Tech Enhanced Education event coming up in mid-April, 2018.