UTS training offers BEST teaching tools
By Liz White, email@example.com, 803-777-2848
Before classes started this week faculty members rushed off to take their own classes. Beginning Monday (Aug. 20), faculty spent three days discussing which apps work best for reading PDFs (Goodreader, by the way) and shared tips for how to spark up a syllabus.
University Technology Services, with help from the Center for Teaching Excellence, offered three days of courses in Blackboard and other technology training before the fall semester began.
The courses ranged from Blackboard basics to teaching with iPads and teaching in Smart classrooms to using Facebook, Twitter and Skype. UTS hosts the Blackboard and Educational Software Technologies (BEST) Institute every year in August and January to get university faculty ready for the new semester.
This semester’s courses brought an unexpected number of participants, with more than 500 faculty members registering for the more than 40 courses.
“Blackboard is a very complex tool,” said Christine Brown, director of teaching and technology services. “Students have come to expect their professors to use Blackboard. They like to be able to go out there and find documents, have a syllabus online and communicate with instructors through Blackboard.”
Technology has become pervasive in teaching and updates to the software means faculty need continued training, Brown said.
Brown has found that BEST courses get faculty excited about the upcoming semester and ready to tackle new ways of presenting information to their students.
“It is great meeting all the faculty who are so interested in teaching well and so interested in doing a good job by their students,” Brown said. “It’s encouraging when you meet all these people who are so enthusiastic about their job. We have some really fantastic faculty here at the university.”
UTS will continue various training sessions – about twice a month – throughout the semester, mostly focusing on Blackboard’s Grade Center. To register for upcoming sessions visit UTS online.
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